What is dry beer is a question many beer lovers and even ardent beer connoisseurs have wondered about, but when beer is referred to as “dry,” it does not refer to the dryness level of the beer. Any beer that has a label or description that mentions it is a dry beer simply means that that beer has little to no residual sugar.
What are other characteristics define dry beers and what sets them apart from super and extra dry beers? Read this complete guide to find out the answers to these questions and more.
What Is the Definition of a Dry Beer?
Dry beers are alcoholic beers that have little to no residual sugars; hence, it is understandable that the word dry here acts as the opposite of sweet and does not refer to dryness of any kind. If you enjoy different kinds of alcoholic drinks and beverages, you have surely come across dry or super dry beers.
To set the record straight, the level of water content in any beer does not have to do anything with the dryness of beers. But learning about beer’s dryness is essential since it impacts the taste of beer.
This is because when the sugar level in the beer is altered, the sweetness and bitterness levels change, altering the beer’s flavor profile. Even if dry beers are high in bitterness and low in sugar levels, they generally never leave an aftertaste on the tongue, giving these beers a very clean finish.
– Super and Extra Dry Beers
Super and extra dry beers are somewhat different from normal dry beers. They are brewed and fermented in a way that they have no residual sugar content left. But these beers have a very intense taste and are mostly higher on the bitterness level.
These beers generally tend to be light golden or straw yellow in color and very intense on the taste palate. The alcohol level is generally always above 5 percent for such super or extra dry beers.
– Change in ABV
The Asahi Super is very high on alcohol level, but surprisingly most other dry beers do not have any change in their average ABV levels. Dry beers can have both regular ABV levels from below 5 percent to high alcohol levels above 10 percent.
This solely depends on the brewers and the taste of the alcohol. Like other regular lager beers like Bud Light, Corona Extra, and Hahn Super Dry, dry beers have similar alcohol levels of 4.5 and 4.6 percent.
This is surprising because the alcohol percentage of any beer is directly related to its sugar and yeast ratio. The more sugar and yeast are broken down and decomposed during fermentation, the higher the ABV.
A great example of popular high alcohol but dry beer is The Mighty Oyster, with 19.3 percent ABV. But when beers are too strong, they can become quick drinks, so most popular brands try to produce dry beers within the 4 to 8 percent ABV range to create a mass appeal.
– Carbs and Nutrition Facts
Many brands promote their dry beer as low-carb and low-calorie to cater to the health-conscious demographic. Yes, as the sugar level is low or negligible, that considerably lowers the carb and calorie levels. So, if you are a beer lover who likes to measure your calories even before drinking your favorite beer, then dry beers are an excellent fit for you.
The average level of nutritional values of any regular beer stands at 0.31 ounces (9 grams) of carbs per pint of beer (335 milliliters approx). This value goes down considerably for dry beers and has an average of 0.07 ounces (2 grams) per 12 ounces or a pint (355 milliliters approx) of beer.
In the case of calories, any regular beer contains 115 calories or more on average, whereas any regular dry or super dry beer contains only 85 to 87 calories.
When you are counting calories in your daily diet for health reasons yet still want to enjoy your beer, these facts can make a vast difference.
When the concept of dry alcohol came into being, it was started by the French to identify and describe good wine with low sugar levels. They termed the wines or champagnes as sec (dry) to identify which ones had a lesser amount of sugar in them.
Back in the day, many spirits had high sugar content, especially wine. However, wine connoisseurs and collectors did not like this extra sweetness; hence they wanted to identify all dry wines and champagnes.
In the present context, dryness of any drink simply refers to the lack of sugar content, and it can refer to any alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. In the late 1980s, even beer joined this bandwagon of getting categorized into dry and non-dry beer.
The First Dry Beer
As history goes, the first officially dry beer to have been produced was called the Asahi Super (Dry) in Japan. They started production in 1987 and have been shaking up the beer market ever since. This rice-based lager has helped reshape the beer industry with this new discovery. After that, many other beer brands followed suit.
The Asahi Dry beer got such great acceptance in the market that it went on to capture 40 percent of the Japanese beer market share. Due to the high alcohol percentage and the unique dry taste, it became an instant sensation, and they started shipping it internationally.
Soon, it was available all across Europe and America. But now, most of these countries have their own versions of dry and super dry beers. Internationally popular brands like Budweiser and Corona are also brewing their own super dry beers.
What Are the Best Dry Beers Around the World?
Some world-renowned dry beers include Asahi Super Dry from Japan, German Holsten Dial Pils from Germany, and Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Torpedo Extra IPA from the United States.
Since dry and super dry beers were invented, there have been a lot of developments and inventions for this line of beers. Here are a few dry beer options from around the world that are a must-try for you to form an opinion about this beer category. Before you understand if these extra bitter and low sugar beers suit your palate, try out a few of the beers listed below.
Japan has been a pioneer in creating dry beer to keep up with the dry alcohol trends. Here are a few examples of dry beer from Japan.
- Asahi Super Dry – They were the first brewed dry beer in the world, and it is the most popular beer in Japan. It is pungent in taste and smell and has a spicy and salty flavor profile, giving it an edge over its competitors. It is also very high in ABV, making it a slow-drinking beer.
- Kirin Dry beer – This is a very dry lager beer with steep competition with the Asahi Super. You can clearly smell the grain malt used, which has a light, refreshing and crisp finish. The bitter taste of hops is quite prominent, and the high carbonation level makes it a refreshing drink.
- Sapporo Dry beer – This beer has a very refined and rejuvenating taste. It has a very dry and clean finish, and the ABV is low, so it goes well as a light party drink. It almost tastes like rice cereals and has a bitterness that resembles black tea. There are also subtle floral hop notes that balance out the bitterness.
After Japan, Europeans also started brewing their own dry beers in their traditional German and Belgian brewing styles. Here are some popular dry beers you should try.
- German Holsten Dial Pils – This beer is a classic German pilsner beer that is produced by the Carlsberg group. It is characteristically bitter and refreshing and only uses exclusive ingredients in its production. The carbonation level is medium and the overall taste is subtle. The bitterness is quite high but not aggressive and does not overshadow this classic pilsner’s rich, alcoholic flavors.
- Irish Dry Stout like Guinness – This is one of the most popular beers in Ireland and Europe in general. This is a smooth and creamy stout that is almost dark brown in color. The bitterness is of medium level and forms a very balanced flavor profile. Due to its heavy body and rich taste, this beer is often used in many popular European food recipes, making it a rage among culinary artists and food lovers. This beer is not as dry as the Asahi Super, but it is also quite dry since its residual sugar levels are very low.
– USA and Canada
After Japan and Europe came the Canadian and American dry beers. There are many you can find in stores, and some are also available in craft beer breweries. Check them out here.
- Anchor Brewing’s Liberty Ale – This beer is made in the traditional brewing methods and has a hoppy and well-balanced taste. They use a lot of malted barley and fresh whole-cone Cascade hops that bring about their exclusive aromas and tastes. The carbonation is very gentle, which enhances the beer-drinking experience even further. The sweetness is very low, and the dry character is very evident.
- Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Torpedo Extra IPA – They use the dry hopping technique to bring complex layers of flavors like citrus, pine, and a mild herbal character. The hop aroma lingers on your nose, and the bitterness is very balanced in this beer. They also use caramelized malts. The sweetness is negligible, but you can still taste the burnt taste of the caramel.
Is Dry Hopping the Same as Dry Beer?
No; dry beers can be hopped in any way the brewers desire and do not require to be dry hopped. Many beer lovers believe that all dry beers are essentially dry-hopped, but that is certainly not the case.
It has been seen that many dry beers use the dry hopping technique to bring about an additional layer or aroma. Dry hopping or ice hopping is the technique where the hops are used after fermentation so that the smell of the hops is more prominent.
In this article on what dry beer is, we learned a lot about the primary characteristics of dry beer and its long history in the beer industry. Before you try out some of the dry beers mentioned above, here are a few things you should remember.
- Dry beer has nothing to do with the water content of beer. Instead, they directly indicate and represent the sweetness of the alcohol.
- Dry beers are beers that have very little to no residual sugar. This also leads to a low calorie and carb level, which many health-conscious beer lovers appreciate.
- The first produced dry beer was the Asahi Super in Japan. At present, USA and Canada have different dry beer options like Anchor Brewing’s Liberty Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Torpedo Extra IPA, and many more.
Want to experience what these beers taste like and see if you like them? Buy a bottle or two to try what they taste like!