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Understanding Hops

With a huge hat tip to  http://thehopry.wordpress.com

As a beer enthusiast it’s pretty apparent that I have a  love for the various aromas and tastes of hops.

So the objective of this (replicated) page is to list of some of the more popular varieties used in today’s beers, and I refer to this sometimes when the Hop is know so I can then match it to what I’m tasting. When I get ‘good’ I might be able to do it the other way around.

Hopefully this will help guide you, as it has me, in having a better understanding of different bittering, aroma, and flavoring properties of hops.

It’s not  an exhaustive list

But if it’s not on this list it might be on this one


Origin: Washington, USAAlpha Acid: 8.0 – 11.0%

Flavor Profile: Amarillo hops are one of the most commonly used hops in IPAs today. Used primarily for aroma and flavor, this style of hop traditionally displays spicy orange and other citrus characters. They are also known to give a beer a bit of floral profile, too.

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; India Pale Ales; Black IPAs


Origin: Oregon, USA | Alpha Acid: 4.5 – 7.0%

Flavor Profile: Who doesn’t love a good grapefruit aroma and taste in their IPA? As one of the “three C hops,” the cascade hop is notorious for providing this character to both the flavor and aroma of a beer. Floral and spice accents are also seen with this variety which sees most of its usage in Pale Ales, India Pale Ales, and an occasional Lager.

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; India Pale Ales; Black IPAs; Lagers


Origin: Washington, USA | Alpha Acid: 8.0 – 11.0%

Flavor Profile: If your IPA has a citrus and/or floral character, it could have something to do with the Centennial variety of hops. Also known as one of the “three C hops,” its fairly high alpha acid percentage and a medium range aroma make for a great hop to use for both bittering and aromatic characters.

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; India Pale Ales; Black IPAs


Origin: Washington, USA| Alpha Acid: 11.0 – 13.0%

Flavor Profile: Chinook is the hop that smells and tastes the most like you would imagine – a dank piney forest. These hops are known to have a very spicy finish, too, and because of the very high alpha acid levels it makes for the perfect bittering component of a beer. Many brewers will tell you to watch out, because they can easily be overused.

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; India Pale Ales; Black IPAs; Barleywines


Origin: Washington, USA| Alpha Acid: 10.0 – 13.0%

Flavor Profile: This is a very new variety of hop on the market and it’s blowing peoples’ minds with its fruity and citrusy characters. It is basically the lovechild of three different hops: Hallertau Mittelfreuh, US Tettnanger, Bavarian, Brewers Gold and East Kent Goldings. Having had this in a few IPAs so far, I can tell you it’s one hop junkies are going to love.

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; India Pale Ales; Black IPAs


Origin: Washington, USA | Alpha Acid: 14.0 – 17.0%

Flavor Profile: Primarily known as another one of the “three C hops,” the Columbus (aka Tomahawk) variety has enough alpha acid to remove the teeth from your mouth. Aside from that, it is regarded as having a very nice herbal character that can be used to bitter and flavor everything from IPAs and Lagers to all types of Stouts.

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; India Pale Ales; Lagers; Stouts


Origin: United Kingdom | Alpha Acid: 4.0 – 5.5%

Flavor Profile: This variety of hop, while grown in very small amounts in the USA, is one of the classic English hops. While it does have a fair amount of bittering properties if used in great amounts, it is primarily used for aroma and flavor. You can expect this hop to impart flavors that have been described as woody, earthy, and sometimes fruity.

Beer Styles: Porters; Milds; ESBs


Origin: Germany | Alpha Acid: 3.5 – 5.5%

Flavor Profile: As the name would suggest, this hop variety comes from the Hallertauer region of Germany. It is a noble hop that has very low bittering qualities because of its alpha acid level, but it gives a beer a light floral (and spice) character.

Beer Styles: Pilsners; Bocks; Hefeweizens


Origin: Germany | Alpha Acid: 12.0 – 17.0%

Flavor Profile: While this hop originated in Germany, it is also currently grown in the Pacific Northwest. Again, this hop has a very high alpha acid unit and is most commonly used to bitter and flavor a beer. The aromas and flavors of this variety have been described as citrusy, herbal, and even spicy.

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; IPAs; Stouts; Porters


Origin: Washington, USA | Alpha Acid: 11.0 – 16.0%

Flavor Profile: Spicy, grassy, and herbal are the primary elements this hop variety possesses. On the higher end of the alpha acid unit spectrum, these hops are primarily used for bittering American Lagers and Stouts. Tröegs Brewery even went so far as to brew a beer that highlights this hop called Nugget Nectar. So look for it if you’re interested in this hop variety.

Beer Styles: Stouts; Old Ales; Lagers


Origin: Washington, USA| Alpha Acid: 5.5 – 9.5%

Flavor Profile: With a relatively low alpha acid unit, the Palisade hop variety has been referred to as one of the better aroma hops. This is another variety that is fairly new, and is produced by Yakima Chief, Inc. in Washington. Its profile can be described as floral, grassy, and even apricot-like and is ideal for IPAs.

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; IPAs; English IPAs


Origin: Czech Republic | Alpha Acid: 3.0 – 5.0%

Flavor Profile: Saaz is another noble hop. It’s main aroma and flavor profiles have been described as earthy and spicy. Some will say it even has a bit of cinnamon-like character to it. Because it has a lower alpha acid unit, this variety can be used for aroma and flavoring, but will likely not bring a lot of bittering character to a beer.

Beer Styles: Pilsners; Wheats; Lagers


Origin: Washington, USA | Alpha Acid: 12.0 – 14.0%

Flavor Profile: There are many brewers using this variety today, but to get a clear understanding of what this hop variety smells and tastes like, one should look no further than the Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA. With a very high alpha acid, this is a hop that isn’t bashful with its pine, citrus, and cat urine characters. In fact, this is commonly referred to as the “cat pee” hop. Try it!

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; India Pale Ales


Origin: Japan | Alpha Acid: 10.5 – 13.0%

Flavor Profile: This variety was originally created and grown for the Sopporo Breweries in Japan, but has recently been growing in the Pacific Northwest. During the hop crisis of 2007/08, a lot of brewers were looking for high alpha acid hops. Because of the alpha acids, it is typically used for bittering (and sometimes flavoring). The flavor is unmistakably with its spicy and lemony characters. See Brooklyn Sorachi Ace.

Beer Styles: IPAs; Saisons; Wheat Ales


Origin: Washington, USA | Alpha Acid: 17.0 – 19.5%

Flavor Profile: One of the more prominent hops varieties to be grown in the state of Washington, the summit hop is a bad sumbitch at nearly 20% AAU. It is also one of the better tasting hops to currently be used in big Imperial IPAs with its huge grapefruit and tangerine characters. An excellent dry-hop variety to be sure.

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; India Pale Ales; Imperial IPAs; Barleywines


Origin: Germany | Alpha Acid: 4.0 – 5.0%

Flavor Profile: This German hop variety is similar to the Hallertauer, but it has been called the “spicier version.” It too has a lower alpha acid unit so its primary use is for aroma and flavor, which has been described as spicy, grassy, and floral. It is also grown in Washington.

Beer Styles: Pilsners; Bocks; Hefeweizens


Origin: Washington, USA | Alpha Acid: 14.5 – 17.0%

Flavor Profile: While this variety of hop has a very high level of alpha acids, the claims is that it can be very light in aroma. As far as the aromas and flavors that have been called out: Grapefruit, pine, lemon, and spice are all profiles that make this one perfect for those big American Imperial IPAs.

Beer Styles: Pale Ales; India Pale Ales; Imperial IPAs


Origin: Oregon, USA | Alpha Acid: 4.0 – 6.0%

Flavor Profile: The Willamette hop variety is at the lower end of the alpha acid scale at about 5.0%. While it may be low, it is one of the better bittering and aroma hops out there with its fruity, floral, spicy and earthy characters. This is a great hop for Brown Ales.

Beer Styles: Brown Ales; ESBs; Pale Ales

14 comments on “Understanding Hops

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