Dry-Hopping of Porter and Stout

Tim H in the comments to the last post had asked about the dry-hopping of stout and porter, pointing to some evidence it was done. Dry-hopping means adding a handful or more “dry” (unboiled) hops to the beer when barrelled or sometimes when stored in a vat or tank before barreling.

At p. 400, here, from A Textbook of the Science Of Brewing (1891) by Edward Moritz and George Morris, you will read that dry-hopping was generally not used for stout and mild ale.

The reasons are evident from the way Moritz explained the advantages of dry hopping. It was primarily for bouquet and taste in pale ale, and also to stimulate an after-fermentation for long-stored beers. Export stouts were the latter case, so that Brettanomyces yeast would consume the non-fermentable (by normal brewers yeast) dextrins and complex sugars.

In contrast, for mild ale a fresh, sweet quality was sought, with the malt to the fore. The hops play a lesser role versus the pale ale family.

Porter was increasingly sold fresh in the 1800s and correlatively maltiness was a signature, with a roasted malt flourish. I think it likely a flowery or herbal note was felt to clash with the malty character of new porter or stout and only a neutral bitterness was wanted, as say Guinness has today.

Certainly porter as handed down before the craft era, in my experience, did not have a strong hop smell and taste: Sinebrychoff Porter, Carnegie Stout, Anchor Porter, Molson Porter, the surviving U.S. regional porters, Guinness, Murphy, Beamish, Sheaf Stout, Lion Stout, the East European porters – none had a pungent hop smell from dry-hopping that I can recall.

Many of these beers survive, and remain unchanged in this regard.

It’s in tune with what Moritz wrote and he was a highly regarded brewing scientist of the era.

To my recollection Victorian brewing writer Frank Faulkner stated the same thing, or in substance. I recall as well similar statements in issues of the Journal of the Institute of Brewing.

Did some breweries diverge from a rule of thumb? Yes, Moritz himself noted this. But this was not typical, judging from his comments and other factors I’ve noted.

20th century practice is less significant as gravities had fallen. Dry-hopping can encourage stability, as Moritz noted too. Nonetheless it was only with the onset of craft that one started to see dry- or aroma-hopped porter and stout, particularly with citric New World varieties.





9 thoughts on “Dry-Hopping of Porter and Stout”

  1. Hi Gary,
    I would love to taste the beer . Can you pick up a few cans and we can get together the next time you are in Montreal .

  2. Hi Gary ,
    Henry Bentley & Co were also dry hopping their XXXX , and their Brown Stout and Double Brown Stout , only the X Mild and XP ( Running Porter) seem to not have been dry hopped ,

  3. See here, for Wahl & Henius (1902), at p 816 under “Stout and Porter”: “no dry hopping”. Even for vatted stout they didn’t want it.

  4. Hi Gary ,
    I’ve found that it was usually the running mild ales that weren’t dry hopped ,
    Eg: Henry Bentley & Co, Eshaldwell Brewery ,Woodlesford Nr Leeds were certainly dry hopping their stronger mild ales in 1892-4
    XX 09/12/1892 @ 4.5 oz /Brl
    XXX 18/12/1892 @ 3.5oz/Brl
    I’ll have a look at the brewing records I’ve got , but I know that Tetley , and Peter Walker & Sons (Warrington) were similar in their practices ,

    • That makes sense Edd, as Moritz & Morris make clear that long-stored beer (any kind) often was dry-hopped. It was to get the Brett going introduced by the raw leaf. But that kind of beer had long been out of fashion. My point is, pale ale retained the practice even where fresh draft, the other forms largely did not and I think it was for palate reasons.

      • Hi Gary ,
        I’d contend that it was a matter of local tastes , and brewery house style ; however , the XX I mentioned would , not have been aged for that long 2-4 weeks I’d say,

        • There will never be 100% consistency, but I believe the great bulk of beers sold in the market followed the practices indicated as usual by Moritz and Wahl & Henius (among others).

          I can’t ever recall a pre-craft porter that had a big burst of flowery Kent hop too Edd, they didn’t make them like that.


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