The Evanescence of Dry-Hopping

Just outside our dining room window is a mature magnolia. As with many magnolias, it blooms briefly in the early spring and magnificently. If you happen to come up on it unawares--looking at your shoes as you walk down the road, say--it can literally stop you where you stand, gazing at its abundance. About a week, that's what we get. Then the lobes of the fleshy flowers start peeling off--usually prematurely rotted by the Oregon rain--falling in clots like discarded Kleenex on the lawn. The lesson: spend as much time during that week enjoying the tree, for nothing, not love nor money, will prolong the show.

So it is with dry-hopped beer.

Two incidents over the weekend reminded me of the evanescence of hops. One was my friend, Patrick, somewhat crestfallen at the dimming freshness of his recent dry-hopped homebrew. He tweeted:
Dry hopped home brew begins to lose it's delightful nose after a month in the bottle-interesting, and a wee bit sad.
In the second case, another friend produced a 2007 Blue Dot and we were all surprised at how much freshness it had lost. I don't know whether Alan dry-hops the beer, but he manages to extract much of the most delicate, fragile essence from the hops, and all of these had faded. Just like an old magnolia blossom.

I fall prey to the instinct to try to preserve beers that shouldn't be preserved, too. A Homer moment--D'oh!--inevitably follows. But with age comes wisdom. Dry-hopped beers--drink 'em if you got 'em.