No, your eyes aren't deceiving you; I'm dry hopping Bud Light today. I borrowed this idea from one of the brewers at Anchor Brewing. He mentioned on a Brewing Network interview that this is his favorite way to see the differences between different hop varieties. They just buy a 12er of Bud Light, pop the caps, drop in a few pellets, and then taste the differences. It sounded like a great idea to me, so here we go!

There isn't too much to talk about in terms of a 'how-to'. Label and sanitize your caps, pop the caps, drop in some pellets, and re-cap. It's a pretty straight forward process. I keep all my hops in mason jars, so it's a pretty simple process for me to open a jar, steal a few pellets, and seal it back up with the foodsaver. The only real question was how many pellets to add to each bottle.


The easiest way for me was extrapolate the batch up to 5 gallons. I figured 2oz of dry hops in a 5 gallon batch sounded about right. 2oz is 56 grams. A 5 gallon batch yields 54 bottles, so we're talking about roughly 1 gram of hops per bottle. My scale has .1g resolution, so it made the process pretty simple. I can tell you it's around 2-3 regular sized hop pellets, or 5-7 of the smaller sized ones. I don't think it will matter too much though; throw in a few pellets and call it good.


Anyway, I put the bottles back in the box, and tossed them in the closet for three days. I then put them in the fridge overnight to crash the hops to the bottom of the bottle. I'd recommend doing this for longer should you keep the beer cold the entire time. Now for the fun part: the tasting!

I used: Amarillo, Apollo, Belma, Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Chinook, Columbus, Galaxy, Mosaic, Nelson Sauvin, and Simcoe. Pretty much all the usual suspects in an IPA line-up. I carefully decanted the beer out of the bottles, and holy crap! I didn't think dry hop character would be as pronounced, or the differences so stark. The Bud Light doesn't provide much in the way of flavor, so the hops really stand out.

I won't do a full review of every hop, but I'll lightly cover them. Amarillo was sweet, big stone fruit character, some citrus. Apollo was insanely dank, much more so than CTZ. Belma was fairly funky, there's some fruit in there, but it's hidden pretty well. Casacde was classic, fairly mild with some grapefruit. Centennial was one of the best on its own. Smells like Trix cereal; big sweet orange note. Citra smells like mangoes -- straight up mango. Chinook was my least favorite, pine with a big dose of cat piss. CTZ was dank with some citrus underneath. Not quite as pungent as Apollo though. Galaxy had to be one of my favs. It doesn't have the in-your-face character that Citra had, but it's very tropical, and seems well-rounded. Almost tastes like a blend. Mosaic is like a mix of Citra and Simcoe with a hint of blueberry. Nelson Sauvin is very nice, citrus with a hint of grape. It's a pretty potent hop. Finally Simcoe, massive grapefruit aroma with a little pine. The pine almost has a fresh-cut-grass quality.


Smelling and tasting them on their own was fun, but when I started mixing them is when the real party started. Holy shit, it's a whole new world. First, I mixed a 50/50 split of Nelson and Galaxy, and it had the identical dry hop character as Stone's Enjoy By IPA. I mean, it still tastes like Bud Light, but the dry hop character is unmistakeable. Next I mixed CTZ, Simcoe, Columbus and a splash of Amarillo, and sure enough, it tasted like Bud Light flavored Pliny. From that point I got creative mixing a few things. One of the notable ones was Apollo, Mosiac, Simcoe, and Amarillo -- pretty incredible.

So, where to take this from here. First, I'm absolutely going to repeat this with something more Pale Ale/IPA like. SNPA seems like the perfect candidate. Secondly, I'll use a hint more hops, maybe 1.5-2g per bottle. Finally, I plan to use this method to test out new dry hop combos before I brew them. It's invaluable how quickly you can drop some pellets in a bottle, and with little work, taste it a few days later. The days of experimenting with 5 gallon batches just to test a dry hop dry are over. I'm serious! This has been a bloody epiphany for me.

This is too easy, and it works too well. Honestly, spend the $12 on a case of beer you won't cry over pouring out, and do this. Now.


53 Comments

  1. I'm going to have to try this! Haven't bought bud light for a while, especially in bottles - is it twist off? Do you recap with regular caps using a wing capper?

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    1. Twist offs. Regular caps, and the normal red-winged capper. I both a 12 pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale today to test some dry hop recipes for a couple up coming beers (American Pale, and American Amber). I think it'll work just as well, but give me a better beer to drink while doing it. (Assuming you can ignore the cascade aroma)

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    2. Now I'm confused. You recapped the beers using the original twist off caps, but used a red-wing capper that's normally used for pry-off caps? Couldn't you just twist them back on?

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    3. From the picture it looks like new caps were used. I have never tried the red-winged capped on a twist off bottle, but I was under the impression that it won't work well. Do the threads on the bottle not get in the way?

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    4. Fresh caps with a red-wing capper. I suppose you could twist them back on, but that worked fine for me.

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    5. I found this method to be very challenging. Twist off bottles with a red wing capper takes some practice and is very frustrating. Out of a case of Budweiser I got 10 usable beers. Also I had issues keeping the hops in the beer. Several bottles had the hops float up to the top and plug off due to moisture absorption. Corona bottles worked a little better but not perfect.

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    6. Hrm... I'm able to get usable samples from every bottle. Maybe some more detailed info on my process would help.

      A. You can use any beer, Sierra Nevada works well, as would any craft blonde ale. That way you could use pop-top bottles.
      B. Ice cold bottles. Get the beer absolutely ice cold before you open it and add the hops. Hops provide nucleation points, nucleation points create foam.
      C. Pellets. Definitely don't try this with leaf hops.
      D. Cap them, and let them warm to room temp.
      E. I usually shake the bottles up after 24 hours or so.
      F. Chill them back down before opening to reduce foaming and drop the hops.
      G. Pour carefully. I can get 10 clear ounces out of a 12oz bottle.

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  2. I heard the same BN podcast and thought this would be great experiment. I though of just brewing a fairly hop-neutral American Blonde because it should have the same effect, but this is much simpler and quicker.

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    1. Ya, it worked surprisingly well. I'll report back how the dry-hopped Sierra Nevada goes. I'm not sure how assertive the cascade in the beer will be.

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  3. Really simple yet brilliant idea!
    I have already filled a six-pack of Bud with my selection of hops!
    Thanks a lot, Scott! You are turning into a homebrewing idol!

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  4. Hi Scott, just wanted to say thanks for this post - such a great idea. I'm fairly new to home brewing and still trying to get my head around the flavours and complexities of hops and this post just lit a light bulb over my head.

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    1. No worries, just sharing the love

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  5. Great idea... and I think the choice of SNPA as another test is a good one. Especially if you find a 12-pack that's been stored warm for awhile, I doubt the Cascades will come through too strongly, since the beer isn't dry-hopped.

    Looking forward to more results!

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    1. I'm going to crack into a couple of the SNPA bottles today. Updates to follow.

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    2. Ok, it worked really, really well. It tastes like a really tasty, dry-hopped pale ale. The hops 'pop' really well, and the underlying beer style 'fits'. Bud light really showcased the differences in the hops more, but Sierra Nevada PA was much better for recipe tests.

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    3. Hey Scott, this thing might became something I'll do regularly here in Brazil. Not only to try and understand the different hop varieties, but to boost up some of our poor stuff.
      Sadly we don't even have Sierra Nevade Pale Ale, but I will find a beer that can be enhanced!
      Again: great idea!

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    4. Any 'clean' lager would work well. If you wanted to go the Sierra Nevada route, any Ale with a decent malt character will work. So long as it isn't too hoppy.

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  6. what an awesome idea. i saw your post on the Heady Topper page on HBT, and was kind of skeptical. But this post really has me convinced. Great read!

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  7. Bud Light is too expensive for me. You think I could use Big Flats?

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  8. Great post. I just had one selfish question though, how do you store your hops in mason jars? Do you vaccuum seal them? And if so, with what? Or do you just tighten the lid and tossem back in the freezer?

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    1. Vacuum seal. This post should help you out: http://www.bertusbrewery.com/2012/08/2012-hop-harvest-storage-tricks.html

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  9. Real Ale Brewing Co's Fireman's #4 might be a better candidate than SNPA for testing hops. Its a quality lawnmower beer but not hoppy enough to interfere with the experiment.

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    1. That's not exactly a nationally distributed beer, but yes, a blonde ale would work well.

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  10. Great article. I had seen where the Anchor guy did this, bu you go into some awesome detail with your tasting results.

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  11. Awesome idea. I have an addition that might make it better. I have been using the Bud product aluminum "bottles" for my brews, since they are not twist off, are 16oz, and are generally pretty cool. But, the problem was, what to do with the Bud Light that's in them. This would kill two birds with one stone. At the very least, it would give me a decent excuse to get the aluminum bottles without feeling bad for purchasing Bud Light. Also, I bet Michelob Ultra would work well. They're available in the aluminum bottles, too. Thanks for the tip, what an idea.

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    1. That would definitely be a good way to re-use those. Use whatever you have though, I wouldn't stress over it too much.

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  12. Yeah, this is brilliant. I'm investing in my first true brew set up next weekend, so while I'm at the shop I'll get the supplies to give this a go. Great tip!

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  13. This is a really genius idea! I'm definately going to give this a try before a brew again! Thanks for the tip

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  14. I dont use pellets and am wondering if it would be possible with whole cones. Anyone tried it yet?

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    1. It miiiight work with whole cones. You'd have to work quickly, and I'm not sure how much the beer might foam.

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  15. Wow, what a fantastic idea. Shared this on my blogs facebook page! Something I definitely want to try.

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    1. Thanks man. If you try it, let me know how it works out.

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  16. Incredible idea! Now I know what to do with those leftover hops from the Imperial IPA I did last night. Thanks for posting!

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  17. dryhopped 10 quarts of bud light last night with: Citra, Mosaic, Calypso, Apollo, Simcoe, Amarillo, Cascade, Cent, Columbus, and Chinook to do a presentation to my club. I was thankful no one saw me buying a near case of BL quarts.

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  18. Our Club did a tasting of nine "dry hopped" Millers last night. We used the suggested one gram hops per bottle. I created a note page so that participants could score the flavors (Spicy, Floral, Fruity, Citrus, Herbal, Grassy/ Earthy, Piney and European) from 1-10 with a block for personal comments. The hops profiled were US Saaz, Apollo, Amarillo, Cluster, US Goldings, Willamette, Cascade, Mt Hood and CTZ. I want to first note that the CO2 in the beer played a major negative impact in tasting. We believe it prohibited the true dry hop flavors from coming out as well as when the bottles were open the hops were carried up with the CO2 coming out of solution. There was a common old grass flavor in samples. We did note some other flavors but not as pronounced as you would think. I would love to try this again with a flat beer or better yet, homebrewed cream ale. Hope that these comments help those that want to give this a try but haven't yet.. JMTC

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    1. That's really interesting. I'm surprised some of the more potent hops (Cascade, CTZ, Amarillo, Apollo) didn't come through more.

      I'll agree there was definitely a common, hoppy, almost grassy character that every sample had. Once I 'looked past' that, the other flavors and aromas opened up more. I'd be curious to see how this worked with some flat samples though. That would a cool experiment.

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  19. I finally did this, but using 2 grams per bottle of SNPA. Holy Jesus, it tastes like another beer entirely. I've only opened the Columbus so far (also waiting: Apollo, Summit, Wilamette and the 2/3 Citra 1/3 Columbus you used for your red ale).

    I don't know what happened with the guy above me, but 2 grams of dry hop managed to turn a simple bottle of SNPA into a hop bomb on the order of Alpine's IPAs. It even tastes more bitter, even though I know it probably isn't.

    Great experiment, and I can't wait to try my other bottles.

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    1. Pretty crazy the difference huh?

      I'm still repeating this experiment with new IPA dry hop combos. SNPA is still what I've been using.

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  20. Hi Scott, just to make sure: those are regular 12floz bottles right?

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  21. Scott - Tell me what I did wrong.

    1. Purchased some shitty Bud Light
    2. Uncapped each bottle and put 3 or 4 hop pellets (diff varieties) in each
    3. Recapped
    4. Let sit for 5 days
    5. Refrigerate
    6. Taste

    I got a bit of hop aroma in the Bud, but an almost imperceptible amount of flavor or bitterness from any of the 8 diff varieties I used.

    What did I do wrong?

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    1. You won't get any bitterness. Alpha Acids have to isomerize before they taste bitter in beer. That process really doesn't happen under 170* F or so.

      As for flavor, there should have definitely been a pretty distinct change. Did you keep one bottle of Bud Light as a control?

      Aside from that, I'd say add a little more hops to each bottle, or check the freshness of your hops.

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    2. Hi Scott, firstly, kudos for the great blog. I do want to bring attention to comments you made about bitterness from dry hopping and isomerisation. These views seem to be widely held in the wider homebrewing community. Unfortunately they are not entirely accurate and with a little experimentation you can find hard irrefutable evidence which flies in the face of "common knowledge". I first experimented with dry hopping plain old tap water after reading some papers published in scientific brewing journal regarding solubility and bitterness of alpha acids and isomerisation rates. I was shocked at how bitter the water was after a week of dryhopping with 5g of columbus Iin a litre of water. As for not getting ANY bitterness below 170f I ask this of you. Have you ever put a raw hop or pellet in your mouth? If not, go to your freezer this instant and grab this first hops you see a cone or a single cone or qarter of a pellet will be mpre than enough see hpw long you can hold it in before spitting in in the sink... be ready to be taught a fast sharp lesson!! Flowers may need a little time to thaw and a little chew but you wont need to wait for pellets!! To ween out all the variable, last year I brewed a 6gal batch beer out of just pale dme ebc: 7 og 1.05. No hops in boil or whilpool. After 2 weeks fermemtation and racking to seconday for maturation I hit the beer with 80g each of citra centennial and columbus for 1week. Then bottled. Results: bitterness is more than enough to make a perfectly drinkable beer.

      Keep up the good work dude.

      Larry

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    3. That's really interesting, I never thought to dry hop cold water and see what it tastes like. I'll give it a try.

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  22. Scott, looks like you really started something here. http://www.theflavorbomb.com/

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    1. haha, I'd love to take credit for that, but I can't. I remember seeing that in a Grand Canyon Brewery beer back in like January or February. Kind of gimmicky, but cool nonetheless.

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  23. Thank you very much. I'm from Italy, and I just want to share my test with you.
    I dry hopped with 2 grams of pellet hops per bottle (33cl) of Poretti 3 Luppoli. No gushing at all when i put hops in bottles (room temperature). I let them sit for 2 days horizontally, and once in a while I gave them a slight shake. Then I put them in the fridge (upside down) for about an hour, and then in my freezer (for 30 minutes). All the hops created an ice-like piece of gunk that i flushed down the sink when I opened the bottles. All of the beer I poured was clear and turned into a modern, great smelling hoppy lager. Besides testing purposes, I will certainly repeat it, because it can turn a crappy lager into something worth drinking. Thank you, I owe you.

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