What exactly the "dry" means in the "dry hop" expression ?

Does it refers to a dry flavor of hop in beer? Or because the hops were added to beer in a dried form? Could it be called or explained as "cold hop"? Or what? ...

EDIT: A THEORY/SPECULATION - Considering the hop history in the beer and when it started to be used to "dry hop". Could it be preferably used in a dried form to avoid contamination instead of its fresh flowers ? And so... "adding dried hop".

  • 1
    +1 : Interesting theory and if it were true, it would be a beautiful demonstration of the evolution of language. These days, brewers often "dry hop" by adding fresh (not dried) hops in the secondary. Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 17:42

4 Answers 4


I can't really answer your question, but I've found some interesting information nonetheless.

The phrase "dry hopped" didn't appear until the early 20th century, according to Google's NGram. The sense of the phrase, from looking at a few samples seems to be the same as in modern use. "Hopped down" was a synonym that has fallen out of favour.

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    +1 : Thanks for the Google's NGram link. I didn't know that existed. Very cool tool! Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 17:38

In the absence of facts, be creative...

Building on the idea that "Dry" is an antonym for "Sweet", perhaps "Dry Hopping" is...

The adding of hops after the yeast has consumed most of the sugars, when the wort/beer is comparatively no longer sweet.

I'm not claiming any proof that this is the origin of the phrase, just a completely unfounded yet apparently solid guess.

-- edit in response to down vote --

Could someone please suggest how I could have phrased the answer above to better avoid the negative responses? I admitted that my idea was just a guess, but I stand on it being a solid guess.

  • I cannot assume that your answer is the correct one, but sure it's a very good proposal. I cannot understand the downvote, also.
    – Luciano
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 19:04
  • no issue with your answer so I'll toss you an upvote to cover the downvote Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 6:25
  • It’s a great guess, nice thinking,upvote. Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 23:24

As far as I know there's no traceable etymology of the word 'dry' in this context. No one I've known in the brewing world has had anything close to a solid answer for this question. I think it's just lost to history.

In looking around, I found at least two instances of referring to the process as "cold hopping", so you're right there. It just refers to any hop addition after wort cooling (not that you'd ever want to add hops before primary, that would just be a waste...).


Interesting question. I did some searching and didn't find an answer. Since dry-hopping refers to adding hops after fermentation is complete, though, I can only assume that somehow "wet" is related to fermentation and, therefore, "dry" relates to post-fermentation.

  • 1
    The practice of using freshly picked hops is also sometimes called "wet hopping", which implies something about the state of the hops.
    – Wyrmwood
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 21:01

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