Best Hops for Dry Hopping (Flavors, Aromas, Bitterness, & More!)

If you’ve tried your hand at homebrewing your own beer, you’re probably pretty familiar with hops and how they can affect your initial brew. But happens when you add the hops in after the wort has cooled, also known as dry hopping?

Dry hopping with different hops transforms beer into unique brews giving each beer special flavor and aroma profiles. The best choices for dry hopping vary by the style of beer you’re starting with and its basic characteristics. Ideally, the added hops will add a strong, unique flavor without clashing with or overpowering your brew.

Read on to find out more about the aromatic and flavorful benefits of dry hopping, as well as recommendations for the best hops for dry hopping almost any kind of beer.

How does dry hopping change the flavor, aroma, and bitterness of beer?

Dry hopping does not provide bitterness to beer.

The lack of boiling during the process does not allow for the alpha acids in the hops to transform into iso acids and provide bitterness. Instead, dry hopping will provide the beer with added aromatics and flavors specific to the hops that you choose.

Typically, hops that are added late in the boil provide more aromatics and flavor with less (but some) bitterness. Adding hops after the wort has cooled during first or second fermentation is a way to enhance the flavor and aroma even more. This makes for a super strong and special hop characteristic without the additional bitterness.

Dry hopping is a good way to craft a beer with the characteristics of specific hops.

You can use one variety or many different ones depending on what you want your beer to taste like. For example, if you want a citrusy, less bitter profile, try dry-hopping with Citra hops. Citra hops are versatile in that they can provide both bitterness, and flavors, and aromas.

Does dry hopping add flavor?

Dry hopping does add flavor.

It can add a significant amount of flavor since the oils are not boiled away during fermentation.

Like the previously mentioned Citra hops, adding one variety of hops will impart a specific taste to your beer. Adding a few different hop varieties can produce an extremely unique flavor and is something worth experimenting with.

Does dry hopping add aroma?

Where there is flavor, there’s aroma.

Strong-scented beers are not confined to the dry-hopping process but can be a product of adding hops after boiling.

The volatile oils of hops are present in dry hopping and provide beers with an even more potent aroma than if they were added late into the boil. 

Does dry hopping change bitterness?

Dry hopping will not change the bitterness of your beer.

The process takes place after the boil, and once the wort is cool. As a result, the alpha acids in hops do not change into the bitter iso acids that form when boiling hops.

You still need to add bittering hops during the boil if you plan on dry hopping after it’s done.

Best hops for dry hopping IPAs

The best hops for dry hopping IPAs are going to be ones that provide citrus, herbal, floral, and earthy aromas and flavors.

IPAs are extremely versatile already, so the charts below are dedicated to the overall characteristics of different hops with specific recommendations under each.

Citrus

HopCharacteristicsUses
AmarilloSweet, orange-likeCan be used on its own or with other hops like Citra and centennial for a smooth, not-too-citrusy blend
CascadeDelicate grapefruit scent and tasteDry hop on its own to avoid overpowering its characteristics
CitraTropical citrus flavor, very popularAlmost exclusively used for aroma and flavor, it can be combined with just about any hop on this list
SimcoeDominantly citrus aroma with subtle, underlying earthy notesPair a bit of Simcoe hops with a little Amarillo hops for a balanced and refreshing taste
ZythosTangerine and pineappleZythos also goes well with Amarillo hops and Simcoe hops. However, it’s still a pleasant hop on its own
Best citrus hops for dry-hopping IPAs

Herbal

HopCharacteristicsUses
AdmiralResinous and herbal with hints of orangeCommonly used in bittering but can be used for dry hopping to add subtle notes and flavors to pair with and tame more aggressive hop profiles
CashmereHerbal with citrus and coconut notesCashmere hops go well with Mosaic hops, but, like many others on this list, they do well on their own
Idaho GemCandy-likeDry hopping with Idaho Gem will give you a sweet, yet herbal, taste and smell
StrisselspaltHerbs, spice, and everything niceDelicate and well-balanced, use it on its own
Best herbal hops for dry-hopping IPAs

Floral

HopCharacteristicsUses
Idaho 7Floral with additional notes of pine and citrusAn ideal hop for dry hopping because of its high oil content, use it on its own or with other hops for unique floral notes
TalusWoody and creamy floral notesGives added value to hoppy brews by balancing flavors and aromas during dry-hopping
TriskelFlowery and fruityA great addition to lighter IPAs and/or sessions
WillametteFloral, incense, earthyWillamette can be used on its own, or try it with a citrusy hop like Simcoe
Best floral hops for dry-hopping IPAs

Earthy

HopCharacteristicsUses
CentennialEarthy and floweryVersatile in bittering and flavoring; use a lot or a little; great on its own
JungaEarthy with a little spiceJunga has a more subtle flavor and aroma and is best used paired with other similar hops
Styrian GoldingSweet, earthySharp flavors that do well on their own or with relatively similar hops like Willamette
Best earthy hops for dry-hopping IPAs

Best hops for dry hopping New England IPAs (NEIPA)

New England IPAs are already going to be on the less bitter and sweeter side of IPAs.

NEIPAs tend to avoid the earthy, resinous, and dank flavor and aroma of hops. Expect to see a lot of bright and fruity hops.

Dry hopping NEIPAs with these mostly-fruit-forward hops is going to impart an even more refreshing taste of whichever ones you use.

HopCharacteristicsUses
CitraTropical citrusExtremely popular for dry hopping; adds a bursting aroma; does exceptionally well on its own or with other, more subtle hops
ColumbusLemon citrus and floralThe citrus and floral aromas are noticeable when dry-hopping; they go perfectly with the haziness and mouthfeel of NEIPAs
GalaxyCitrus and passionfruitWith one of the highest percentages of essential oils in hops, Galaxy hops make a phenomenal addition for dry hopping
MosaicMango and pineMosaic hops give a distinct flavor to any beer and do particularly well when dry hopped in a NEIPA
SimcoeCitrus and earthyThe subtleness of Simcoe hops’ earthy notes make it a great dry hop candidate in NEIPAs
Best hops for dry-hopping New England IPAs

Best hops for dry hopping pale ales

Pale ales are similar to India Pale Ales in that they are still hoppy but not as bitter.

Pale ales can become sweet(er) and flavorful with potent hops during dry-hopping or a little more low-key with the use of subtle hop varieties.

The particular hops used during dry-hopping of pale ales vary widely, similarly to IPAs, so the list of characteristics and recommendations may look a little similar.

HopCharacteristicsUses
AmarilloSweet, orange-likeSimilar to its place in IPAs, the Amarillo hop can be used to achieve a perfectly balanced, sweeter ale
CascadeDelicate grapefruit scent and tasteVery popular in pale ales so that the delicate grapefruit flavor shines through; dry hop on its own
PalisadeSweet and grassyPalisade hops work well in pale ales, where their berry flavors are still prevalent
WarriorMild and clean, pineyDry hopping with Warrior hops will produce a classic, clean-cut, and balanced-tasting pale ale
Best hops for dry-hopping pale ales

Best hops for dry hopping pilsners

Pilsners retain a light malt character. That being said, dry hopping them can be tricky.

You can use whatever you want, but the trick would be to not overdo so that the malty character of the beer remains intact.

HopCharacteristicsUses
LibertyMild; floral, spicyLiberty hops are mild and subtle to begin with, which is great for dry hopping a pilsner; use fresh
MotuekaLemon and lime; mojito tonesDoesn’t overwhelm the malty flavors of pilsners and adds a rich lemon-lime flavor; use on its own
WillametteFloral, incense, earthyUse less than you would in an IPA or pale ale for pleasant floral aromatics
Best hops for dry-hopping pilsners

Best hops for dry hopping saisons

It’s difficult to even pinpoint what makes a Saison a Saison.

However, there are a few varieties of hops that will make them taste good regardless of what you consider the foundation of the beer to be.

HopCharacteristicUses
FuggleMild, resiny, mintySmall amounts of Fuggle hops can be used to dry hop saisons to achieve an almost elusive wooden and minty aroma and taste
SaazOriginal Noble hop; warm and herbalUsed almost exclusively for aromatics, Saaz will create a beer with a warm and herbal spiciness 
Styrian GoldingSweet and earthyA stingy use of these hops in dry-hopping will give you a sweet-tasting saison
Best hops for dry-hopping saisons

Best hops for dry hopping cider

There’s no doubt that most people aim for citrus, fruity hops when dry hopping ciders. Most of the hops used during this process are ones that have already been mentioned including Centennial, Citra, Galaxy, Mosaic, Palisade, and Simcoe.

The nice thing about ciders — and with most beers, really — is that you can use a wide variety of different mixtures of hops to find a delicious blend. Like I said, though: most brewers tend to stick with the sweet, citrusy hops for dry hopping ciders.