WTF is DDH? It Depends on Whom You Ask.

Cat Wolinski WTF is DDH? It Depends on Whom You Ask.

4 minute Read

As with so many things pertaining to beer, particularly those of the IPA variety, “DDH” is more complicated than it looks. The acronym, which stands for “double dry-hopped,” is increasingly adopted by trend-driven (and trend-setting) brewers putting out hoppy, aromatic IPAs and DIPAs. In fact, many New England IPAs, a particularly sticky category, are sold in 16-ounce cans with the letters “DDH” on them.

Double dry-hopping has not been cumulatively defined, though, so for some, the term raises more questions than answers. Is it just a marketing buzzword? Has the acronym evolved into something greater than the sum of its parts? We asked the brewers on all sides of the conversation to make sense of the phenomenon.

DDH Defined

A dry-hopped beer is simple enough to define — hops are added to the beer-in-process post-boil, or on the “cold side,” when the liquid is in its primary or secondary fermentation phase. This allows the hops to impart all their wonderful aromas without leaving behind the bitterness you get when you boil them.

“Doubling” that process can mean one of two things.

“It essentially means dry hopping twice, or [hopping with] twice as much hops,” says Scott Ungermann, brewmaster at Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, the brewery that boasts being the first to regularly employ the dry-hopping method in America, circa the mid-1970s. But, he adds, “There are so many different methods of what people are using now — HopRocket, hopback, our Taco Cat — new methods of dry hopping just keep coming.”

Augie Carton, founder of Carton Brewing in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, believes that the term “double dry-hopped” means something totally different from its acronym. Carton says “DDH” has transcended its literal definition, taking on a meaning — and beer style — all its own.

“DDH seems to exist on a type [of beer], the NEIPA,” Carton says. “What that means is hop haze and protein haze with a very serious amount of late-addition hopping. DDH became shorthand for a very large amount of late-addition hops; I just think it’s silly because the first ‘D’ means ‘double,’ and if you don’t have anything to begin with, you can’t double it. If you don’t have a one, you can’t make it two.”

Carton raises a compelling point. Let’s say a brewery has produced an IPA — we’ll call it a VinePair IPA — that is dry-hopped one time. A “double” version of our VinePair IPA could either entail dry-hopping it an additional time, or using twice as many hops the first time around. Either way, voila: DDH VinePair IPA.

If there isn’t a singularly dry-hopped VinePair IPA, though, who is to say what constitutes a doubly dry-hopped VinePair IPA? In many instances, Carton says, the label “DDH” comes to mean “a lot of hops,” as opposed to a specific amount or process.

It’s “trying to simplify something that isn’t simple,” Carton says. For example, he argues, a dry-hopped lager might use one pound of hops per barrel. A dry-hopped IPA might have three pounds of hops per barrel; and a DDH DIPA (double dry-hopped double IPA) could have six pounds of hops per barrel or more. “[Another brewer] recently told me they did nine pounds of hops per barrel,” Carton says. “That’s a lot of hops.”

In short, there is not a specified amount, and each brewery double dry-hops differently. “It’s really what you want that recipe to be,” Carton says.

How Brewers DDH

At Sixpoint Brewery, based in Brooklyn, chief product officer Eric Bachli says double dry-hopping “is really doubling the quantity of hops per barrel. A double dry-hopped version can mean adding double the hops at the same time you would with a single hopped beer, or some [brewers] split it up, doing a first charge that’s the same [amount of hops] as the base recipe, and adding a second charge later on.”

Bachli gives the example of a beer he recently developed at Sixpoint, DDH Resin. “For DDH Resin, we add a big charge at one point in fermentation,” he says, “and a second load a few days after.”

At Carton Brewing, instead of using the term double dry-hopped or its acronym, Carton prefers simply describing the beer in its name. “I’m making a beer right now other people would call DDH DIPA, [and I’m calling it] Hoppy Lact-Oat Pale Ale,” Carton says. (The beer is brewed using lactose and oats, two key ingredients in many DDH DIPAs.) “All of my beers have always had two dry-hoppings. I don’t find use in that term. If I want to say it’s hoppy, I just write the word ‘hoppy’ on it. Carton is all about conversation, and I think a shorthand term takes that aspect away.”

Anchor Brewing, despite being an early American dry-hopping player, will release its first double dry-hopped beer, Brewers Pale Ale, this year. “Because we’re dropping the hops out of the Taco Cat and reintroducing more hops, we are referring to it as an aromatically complex, double dry-hopped pale ale,” Ungermann says. “It’s the first time we’ve referred to a beer as such,” he adds.

Is DDH More than a Label?

“If you get a DDH beer and it’s not an aromatic hop bomb, then you’ve been lied to,” Carton says. “I would never call BS on JC [Tetreault, co-founder] at Trillium or Sam [Richardson, co-founder] at Other Half. When they say DDH, their beers are that.”

Carton doesn’t see DDH as trickery — “I’m not that cynical,” he says — but he does think it is an inefficient label. “The lack of anything ‘doubled’ [in a beer labeled DDH] isn’t a fallacy, it’s just poor English. It’s marketers getting lazy and using shorthand they know people are excited by.”

It also might come with a higher price tag, Carton notes. “Each letter is worth a dollar, so a beer with DDH is $3 more,” he jokes.

There is IPA, then there is DDH

“There’s a lot of sex appeal for hop heads, because you’re taking an awesome fucking beer and doubling down on it,” says Bachli. “For me, who’s obviously super into beer, I gravitate toward that hoppy goodness. I’m all in. I would imagine the consumer is as well, especially with the new hops available that are super tropical, like Citra, Mosaic, [and] El Dorado … People just want more and more.”

Ultimately, the problem with labeling isn’t limited to DDH. This particular subset exemplifies — or, some might say, amplifies — the issue.

“Just stop calling these beers IPA and call them DDH,” Carton says. “What people call the NEIPA is so far removed from what an IPA is. Instead of making DDH a sub-genre of IPA, just call it a DDH. There’s no ‘double’ of anything because nobody has the original coefficient.” Carton believes you simply “can’t double something you haven’t singled. At least, that’s what I think the solution is.”

Mathematics are straightforward. Beer, not so much.

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