Different Types of Hops and How They Are Often Used

Looking in your local home-brew supplies depot you must have noticed the staggering amount of different hops which are now available to the beer enthusiast.

You can’t have helped but notice the many different hop names often listed on the taps in your favorite craft beer hangout or on the labels of the many bottles of craft beer now available.

One of the key ingredients of beer, along with water, yeast, and malt, hops are actually the flower, or to be more precise the “cones” of the plant known as Humulus lupulus plant, a perennial vine related to the cannabis plant that thrives in the same type of climates similar to grapes.

At last count, there were over 150 types of hops on the market and this continues to grow as innovative brewers cross-breed hops for their desired flavor.

Hops are basically what puts the bitter in beer, with some hoppy flavor American ales like IPAs being over-hopped for that eye-watering bitterness enjoyed by many beer enthusiasts/hop heads.

With so many different types of hops, it can be hard to choose which hop or hops to use. Single hop beers are very rare nowadays with most brewers tending to use a combination of hops for different levels of bitterness, varying flavors to beers, and intense aromas.

Follow our simple guide and list of 38 popular hops used in the US today below to decide which hop or hop selection is right for you, either in your home brew or that next pint down at your local bar.

green hops on a wooden surface
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Alpha Acids and Their Importance to Hops

To understand the difference in each type of hop and the three major categories of a hop, it is first of all important to understand the role alpha acids play in the bitterness level of a hop.

Alpha acids are chemical compounds found in the resin glands of the hop plant flowers and are the source of bitterness found in the hop.

The three most important alpha acids found in hops, Humulone, Cohumulone, and Adhumulone are transformed into iso-alpha acids when added to a boiling wart to give the beer a sharper and bitter taste.

Alpha acids are also responsible for the antibacterial qualities of the hops. In the past, higher alcohol levels were used for longer shelf life and more stable beers, but many brewers found adding more hops not only killed off any unwanted bacteria but also made for a healthier environment for the yeast to grow and ferment more efficiently.

The bitterness of a beer is measured by the International Bitterness Units scale with the alpha acid content of a hop being a major deciding factor.

The IBU scale runs from 1 to 100, with hoppier beers like West Coast IPAs having an IBU of 50 or more, although once an IBU reaches about 80, the human palate can’t taste any more bitterness.

Beta Acids

If we are going to mention alpha acids, we cannot leave out the other type of acid found commonly in hops, the beta acids.

Compared with the alpha acids, hops add relatively lower levels of beta acids to a finished beer. Beta acids have stronger antiseptic qualities but add less bitterness than alpha acids.

The bitterness added by beta acids comes from the oxidization of the acids with oxygen in the beer over a period of time. This often causes subtle changes in the flavor of beers that are stored for longer periods of time such as lagers.

As such when looking at different varieties of hops the alpha acid content is a far more trustworthy guide to how much bitterness they will add to the finished beer, while beta acids and the essential oils will add more to the aroma and flavor of an ale.

The 3 Major Categories of Hops

green hops in transparent glass on a wooden surface
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Hops are used to add bitterness, aroma, and flavor to an array of beer styles and each hop has its own category.

Bittering Hops

These hops are normally added at the start of the brewing stage as the boiling slowly releases the iso-alpha acids which give rise to the bitter taste.

High in alpha acids, mainly over 10%, bittering hops will be lower in essential oils. These hops concentrate more on the bitterness of the beer rather than the taste or the smell,

Many of the European hops have a higher alpha acid percentage than our new world hops so are a much better choice for bittering.

There are exceptions though, such as Tomahawk, Columbus, Zeus, or Chinook hops which are excellent US-produced bitter hops.

Bittering hop examples include:

  • Admiral
  • Bravo
  • Brewers Gold
  • Chelan
  • Colombus
  • Comet
  • Galena
  • Green Bullet
  • Herkules
  • Merkur
  • Nugget
  • Pacific Gem
  • Southern Star
  • Summit
  • Tomahawk
  • Victoria
  • Warrior
  • Zeus

Aroma Hops

Yes, you have guessed it – these hops are more focused on the smell of the beer. With higher levels of essential oils than bittering hops, they impart that aromatic flavor which can range from an aroma of earthiness to citrus aroma or a fruity aroma.

They will have average alpha acid levels too low. In general hops from North America tend to feature more aroma qualities than their European aroma hop counterparts with the exception being the Noble hops.

Examples of aroma hops are:

  • Amarillo
  • Aramis
  • Aurora
  • Blanc
  • Bobek
  • Brewers Gold
  • cascade
  • Citra
  • Canterbury Golding
  • Crystal
  • East Kent Golding
  • Falconers Flight
  • Fuggles
  • Golding hops (English varietal hop)
  • Golding (US-based variant)
  • Hallertau
  • Liberty
  • Mosiac
  • Pacific Hallertau
  • Santiam
  • Styrian Golding
  • Sylva
  • Triplepearl
  • Ultra
  • Wai-iti
  • Whitbread Goldings
  • Zythos

The noble hops from Europe also fall into the aroma category. You don’t have to be a noble or part of the gentry to use them, they just refer to the high status that some of the oldest and most traditional hops fall into.

Originally from the innovators of European beer brewing, these hops mainly originate from the old Bavarian regions of Germany and Czechoslavakia and include:

  • Czech Saaz
  • German Tettnanger
  • Spalt
  • Hallertau Mittelfruh

Dual-Purpose Hops

Sometimes also referred to as flavor hops, these dual-purpose brewing hops can be used to add bitterness if added to the boil, or can be added later for a more aromatic quality and flavor. Dual purpose hops have both higher

Dual-purpose hops have high alpha acid compositions with plenty of essential oils. They offer a balance of bitterness with a blend of aroma in hops which can be added at any part of the brewing process from start to late or even dry hopping.

Hops like Citra, Simcoe, and Cascade can also be used as dual-purpose hops and used at all stages, especially in Pale Ale or IPAs where they add both bittering and a complex aroma to the beer.

Examples of Dual purpose hops include:

  • Bitter Gold
  • Bramling Cross
  • Centennial
  • Challenger
  • Chinook
  • Cluster
  • First Gold
  • Fuggle
  • Galaxy
  • Hallertau Aroma
  • Horizon
  • Nelson Sauvin
  • Northdown
  • Northern Brewer (German varietal)
  • Northern Brewer (US variety)
  • Opal
  • Phoenix
  • Pioneer
  • Progress
  • Rakau
  • Simcoe
  • Southern Brewer
  • Southern Cross
  • Sovereign
  • Sterling
  • Super Alpha
  • Super Styrian
  • Wakatu
  • Williamette

38 Types of Hop

Enough talking about the classifications of hops, let’s get into the nitty-gritty and look at some of the most common types of hops used in American commercial beers today by craft brewers today.

Admiral Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 13 to 16.2%

A bittering British hop, the Admiral hop was created from a combination of the Challenger and Northdown hops and was first released to the commercial brewers market in 1998.

The intense flavor features notes of orange and a citrus scent which makes for an ideal bittering hop to be used in all types of IPAs, Pale Ales, and other bitters. The lower oil composition lends a woody and herbaceous aroma to the hop making for a bold combination with the citrus notes.

You can find this hop used in popular beers like Stone IPA and Three Floyds Blackheart English IPA.

Agnus Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 9 to 15%

Released in 2001, this Czech hop was a result of breeding various hops including Northern Brewer, Saaz, and Fuggles. A bittering hop due to the high level of alpha acids, common beer types that use it include German-style lager and ales but it also works well in a Pilsner-style beer.

A spicy citrus flavor, it has a clean bitterness along with more complex flavors. Some describe it as a grassy, almost floral aroma with a hint of lychee and thyme. Although hops like Saaz or Northern Brewer are often used in their place, the wide array of flavors makes it ideal for single hop beers.

Alpharoma Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 5.8 to 10.9%

One of the first New Zealand-bred hops we feature, this hop variety was originally created in 1970 but not released to the wider market until about 1983.

A unique oil balance with an average alpha acid content of between 5.8% to 10.9% categorizes it as a dual-purpose hop. Used in Pale Ales and lagers, the Alpharoma hop gives a clean bitterness along with citrusy flavors and a fruity aroma.

Not the easiest of hops to find, most enthusiasts tend to use this versatile brewing ingredient in smaller quantities blended with other dual-purpose hops.

Amarillo Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 8 to 11%

One of the classic American hop varieties, Amarillo hops are typically used in the brewing of American Pale Ale and American Ales IPAs. This hop was originally discovered growing wild in the late 20th century and is a very popular aroma hop with middle-range alpha acid levels.

With a strong aroma of citrus and oranges, the Amarillo hop has a moderate bittering quality and flavor qualities particularly suited for West Coast IPAs.

Atlas Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 7 to 11%

Using Slovenian wild hops blended with Brewers Gold, the Atlas hop is a versatile dual-purpose brewing ingredient. With an average acid composition, it can brighten up a variety of beer styles with a mild bitterness.

Rich aromatics balance a piney, floral aroma and it’s popular with brewers of Pale Ales and Belgian-style ales. It’s also not uncommon to get hints of a limey citrus fresh aroma with this European hybrid too. If you can’t find the Atlas hops, Aurora or Styrian Gold hops are possible substitutions.

Aurora Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 6 to 9 %

Another European hybrid, Northern Brewer hops have been blended with TG hops and wild Slovenian hops to produce a hop with moderate bittering qualities but floral flavors with an aroma of pine, tropical fruits, and lime.

This rich aroma is best showcased in an array of beer styles from English ales and American and is similar to the aroma found in most Belgian ales. The parent hop, Northern Brewer, is often used in place of this aroma hop for a similar result.

Belma Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 10%

A relatively new hop, Belma hops were first cultivated by Puterbaugh Farms in Washington State. As dual-purpose hops, they are commonly used in Pale Malt Ales to bring hoppy notes and a tropical aroma of fruits such as pineapple, strawberry, and citrus.

An aroma of melon along with light floral notes tops off the fruity aromas of these hops, which creates a tasty brew when paired with hops like Calypso or Citra.

Bitter Gold Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 16 to 19%

Coming from a lineage of hops including Brewers Gold, Fuggle, and Comet, the high alpha acid levels in these American varietal hops give them a strong bittering quality.

With very few notable aromatic qualities, Bitter Gold is only used for bittering in beer styles from IPAs to, of course, English bitters. Although Galena or Nugget hops could be substituted at a push, they won’t offer the same intense bittering per every ounce of hops used.

Bramling Cross Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 5 to 8 %

Though this is actually a British hop, this intensely fruity hop is popular in the States as it can be used in just about any type of beer as an aroma-type cultivar.

The Bramling Cross hop was first cultivated in 1927 using a cross of a Golding variety called Bramling and wild Canadian hops. The result was a hop that features a rich aroma of blackberry, currants, and plum ideal for use in traditional cask-conditioned ales.

The unique flavor can also be used with all other types of beer from Golden Ales and IPAs and even to darker brews like stouts or brown ales.

With moderate bittering qualities, other hops found in the Golding family like Whitbread Golding or East Kent Goldings hops offer a similar flavor profile but if you want to experience the full flavor of the Bramling Cross hop try to grab hold of a can of Brew Dog’s Bramling Cross IPA – you won’t be disappointed.

Bravo Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 14 to 17%

You’ve probably guessed by the high alpha acid composition, that this is yet another bittering hop, which is very popular among the West Coast craft breweries.

Bravo hops are best used in Pale Ales but are also favored by American IPAs, another style of beer where they add a smooth bitterness. An aroma of spice with earthy and floral notes contrasts with the bitterness the Bravo hops bring for a smooth finish to the beer.

Bravo hops can be swapped out for Apollo, Columbus or Zeus hops when necessary although single hop beers like Dangerous Man Brewing Co.’s Bravo IPA show what you get from this wonderful bittering hop to the full extent.

Brewers Gold Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 6 to 10%

Dating back to 1919, open pollination of wild Manitoba hops, the Brewers Gold hops are said to be a dual-purpose hop, but in reality, they work better for their bittering qualities.

The mild aroma has fruity notes with a little spice added that works well for darker brews like Imperial Stout. the moderate alpha acid range makes Brewers Gold a versatile hop for bittering your favorite brew while adding bright aromatics. Substitutes for the Brewers Gold hops include varietals such as Bramling Cross, Galena, or Cascade.

British Kent Goldings Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 4 to 6%

Known by several different names, BKG, Kent Goldings, and East Kent Goldings, these hops add a distinct aroma to a brew. The British Kent Goldings were originally farmed in the Kent region of Southern England way back in the 1790s and are used mainly for English-style beers and Pale Ales.

With a low alpha acid range, the aroma is the strong point of these hops and they add a soft aroma of floral, lavender, and honey with a hint of fresh lemon, and thyme for a little spice.

If you are feeling over-hopped by some of the bigger 4 Cs then why not take a break with the Kent Goldings?

Other varieties from the Golding family of hops can be easily substituted when needed including the US Golding or British Progress hops. Commercial brews like Samuel Adams Ale or Saison de la Bond from the Deschutes Brewery make use of British Kent Goldings hops if you want to try them.

Calypso Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 12 to 14%

A newer variety of hop from the American Pacific Northwest, Calypso hops are known for both their bittering and aromatic characteristics. The alpha acid content of 12 to 14% makes Calypso an excellent choice as a bittering agent in brews.

When it comes to the flavor and aromas offered by the Calypso hop there are a wide variety of descriptions. Most would first focus on the fruity flavors including most commonly apple, citrus, and pears.

Melon and tropical fruit aromas also manage to squeeze in there too. Some people even claim to get tastes of pepper, cherry blossom, or mint. That’s one helluva flavor punch!

Widely available in both whole hop and pellet form, it’s very unlikely you would ever need to substitute any other hops for the Calypso, but it would be possible to use a fruity hop like Belma or cascade if you really had to.

Cascade Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 4.5 to 7 %

The first of the Big 3 C hops raved about by many hop enthusiasts, this group of hops is thought to represent the authentic taste and aromas of the American craft beer revolution.

First born in Oregon, Cascade hops are arguably the most commonly used hop in both home and commercial craft brews. With a low to average alpha acid range, they are dual-purpose hops that bring a fruity, citrus aroma with a hint of spicy notes to brighten up any beer type, especially IPas, APAs, and any other American ale.

Cascade is one of the easiest hops to get your hands on in both whole cone or pellet form and works well for dry hopping a beer too. Centennial or Amarillo hops could be substituted if by chance your local depot should ever run out. (Not likely!) The infamous Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a great example of a Cascade hopped beer.

Cashmere Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 7.7 to 9.1%

As the name implies, Cashmere hops add a smooth silky taste to almost any style of beer. Although a relatively new varietal, it was only released by Washington State University back in 2013, and it has quickly risen in popularity.

Descended from the Northern Brewer and Cascade hops, Cashmere hops have a unique aroma of herbs combined with melon flavors and citrus notes with a spicy hint at the end. Lower alpha acid levels give it a moderate bittering quality which works well with American Pale Ales, IPAs, or any other American Ale.

Centennial Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 9.5 to 11.5%

The second of the 3 C hops in our list is often also referred to as Super Cascade, although it features a more citrus-heavy aroma than a Cascade.

First developed in 1974, the Centennial is predominantly Brewer’s Gold hop which has been mixed with East Kent Goldings and Fuggle amongst others too.

A moderate to high alpha acid range balances with a crisp yet fruity aroma when added to a boil. Easy to find in both pellet and whole form, the nearest substitute if needed would be to blend Columbus and Cascade hops.

Challenger Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 6.5 to 8.5%

First bred by Wye College back in 1972, this woodsy varietal has a pronounced English flavor to it. It is a dual-purpose hop that gives both aroma and moderate bittering to a beer.

Commonly used in European beers, Challenger hops have a rich aroma of cedar, with some green tea, spice, and floral notes thrown in for good measure. This hop also blends well with others for brews like Pale Ales, Belgian Beers, and of course English Ale.

Chelan Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 12 to 15.5%

This bittering hop is the offspring of the Galena hop and has high levels of both alpha and beta acids for a sharp bitterness along with a hint of fruity, almost floral aroma.

The higher level of alpha acids found in Chelan hops makes them a popular choice for American Ales and Pale Ales. Galena hops would be a viable substitute but Nugget could be another option too.

Chinook Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 12 to 14%

Although not officially part of the 3 Big C group, this popular craft brewers hop is often found in the same beers to add that piney aroma and a trace of sharp bitterness.

First developed in 1985 in Washington State, this hop is a cross between Petham Goldings hops and a high alpha male hop.

Although many would argue pine is the overriding flavor this hop brings to a beer, there’s also a bright hint of grapefruit which adds to the bitterness. The heavy bittering qualities and the earthy aroma make it an ideal hop for IPAs, APAs, and many seasonal brews like Winter Ale or stouts.

Cicero Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 6 to 7%

A varietal of the Styrian C series, this Slovenian hops is used for both its aromatic and bittering qualities. A relatively low alpha acid range makes for a more moderate bitterness but with a typical Styrian aroma of floral notes with a light spiciness.

Although not available homegrown in the US yet, it has excellent storage qualities and can be easily imported. If you need a substitute any member of the Styrian Cs or the parent hop Aurora would give similar results.

Citra Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 11 to 13%

Now that we’re talking, one of my all-time favorite hops is the Citra hop! Bright grapefruit, orange, and lemon combine with tropical fruit flavors for an aroma that is really unique to this hop.

Widely used in IPAs and Pale Ales the high alpha range adds a crisp bitterness when added to the boil, but it can also be used for dry hopping to let that wonderful aroma shine through. Combing with other fruity hops like Simcoe or Mosaic tends to work well and both can be used as a substitute.

You can taste the results of a Citra and Mosaic fruity flavor combination in beers like Victory Brewing Co.’s Imperial Cloud Walker, a hazy IPA.

Cluster Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 4.4 to 8%

Believed to be among the oldest hops in the US, these are also grown in far-off places too like Australia. First discovered in Oregon in the early sixties, the Cluster hop is thought originally to come from Canada.

Of particular noteworthiness is the Yakima Cluster hops which descended from Native American hops with the lush soil of Washington state giving an earthy aroma to the hops.

Despite having a low alpha acid range, Cluster hops are often used as a bittering agent but are more commonly added towards the end of the brew for those earthy aromas.

Columbia Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 8 to 10%

Recently revived in 2011 due to the explosion of the craft brewing scene, Colombia was first released in 1967 but production was abandoned for more aromatic varietal hops which the market demanded.

With a punchy citrus kick, this hop is perfect for use in light ales like Pale Ales, IPAs, and English style. An average alpha acid composition of 8 to 10% gives a mild bittering effect to the hop.

You may still struggle to find this hop in some states but a similar variety of hop is the sister hop Williamette.

Columbus Hop

Alpha Acid Composition: 14 to 18%

The final member of the Three C’s in our list, Columbus hops are also called Tomahawk, Zeus, or the acronym CTZ, which combines all three names. One of the most widely used hops in commercial beers, the high alpha acid range makes it a perfect bittering agent in most brews.

A smooth bitterness it works best in Pale Ales, IPAs, and Imperial style beers. To get more aroma from the hop it can also be added in the dry hopping stage for a peppery and pungent licorice aroma.

With Tomahawk and Zeus being essentially the same hop these could be substituted for Columbus along with other popular hops like Chinook or Nugget.

Crystal Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 3.5 to 5.5 %

Most commonly used as an aroma hop, the Crystal hop descends from Cascade, Brewer’s Gold, and Early Green hops. First released in 1993 as a product of the USDA’s hop breeding program, the lower alpha acid levels allow for the woodsy and earthy aroma to shine through with a little spiciness of cinnamon and black pepper.

An ideal addition to IPAs, this versatile hop can also be used in ESBs, brown ales, and many types of lager. Other hops which feature a similar aroma profile include Mt. Hood, Hallertau Mf, or Liberty hops.

Dana Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 7.2 to 13%

Another Slavic hop, Dana hops are also known as Styrian Dana and is an aroma hop from the breeding of the Hallertau Magnum hop with a wild Slovenian male hop.

A subtle citrus aroma with floral notes adds to many beers like Belgian Ales and Pales, with the higher acid levels meaning it could also be used for bittering.

The more common use is for aroma and similar Styrian hops like Celeia or Bobek could be substituted at a push.

Eroica Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 12 to 15%

Another USDA’s cross-pollination hops, this time with Brewers Gold, Eroica hops were released to the market in the mid-1980s. A sister to Galena hops, Eroica is often used to add a fruity flavor to ales like IPA, Pale Ales, and many lagers.

Although the aromatic essential oils content is high, the hop also has a reasonably high alpha acid range suitable for adding a sharp bitterness to the brew. Substitutes include Galena, Brewers Gold, and Bullion for that fruity flavor profile.

Falconers Flight

Alpha Acid Composition: 9 to 12 %

Developed to honor the Northwest’s brewing legend that is Glen Hay Falconer, the Falconers Flight hop is dual purpose adding a bittering quality along with fruity aromas to regional styles in the Northwest like IPAs and Pale Ales.

If used for aroma purposes, the finished ale will enjoy a light citrus flavor, along with grapefruit and tropical fruits. A mic sought-after hop, you could also substitute Cascade or Colombus hops but to try the original look out for the Sly Fox Brewing Co.’s Falconers Flight APA.

Fuggle Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 3 to 7 %

A popular hop variety the Fuggle hop has been around since 1875 and is one of the most popular British hops used.

Varietals of the Fuggle hops are grown worldwide from the UK to the US and although the region where the hop is cultivated will affect some of the characteristics Fuggle hops tend to have the same general properties wherever they come from.

A dual-purpose hop they can be used to compliment many beer styles including Belgian and English style beers along with IPAs and Red Ales. The lower alpha acid levels allow an earthy aroma to dominate the beer with hints of wood, grass, and even mint.

Galena Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 11 to 14 %

Possibly the most used hop in the US for bittering, the high levels of alpha acids lend themselves well to IPAs, Stouts, Brown Ales, and Pale Ales.

Although primarily a bittering agent, Galena hops also feature aroma qualities with a spicy blackcurrant and citrus profile. Due to the high usage in both commercial and homebrew scenes, the Galena is widely available but if you did want to try swapping it out, hops like Brewers Gold or CTZ are suitable substitutions.

A great example of a Galena hopped beer is Stone Brewing Co.’s Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout although you will more than likely find some of your favorite brews already use Galena hops.

Golding Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 4 to 7 %

As one of the most traditional English varieties of hops, you can trace the Golding hops back to Kent, the beer garden of England, where they have been produced for over 200 years.

With a relatively low alpha acid range, Golding hops are used to give beer that uniquely English aroma of mild sweetness with hints of floral scents ideal for use in lighter beer styles.

You will find this English variety used in many different beer types including ESB, Brown Ales, and even Porters. For a similar aroma profile look out for the closely related East Kent Goldings hops or Williamette hops.

Hallertau Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 3 to 5%

Originally from Germany, the Hallertau hop is now used in New Zealand and the States, too. A lower level of alpha acids means this hop is normally used for its aroma, with a strong aroma of herbaceous floral qualities with a hint of spice and almost hay-like characteristics.

These aromas are ideally suited to Belgian style Ales and lagers in particular the Bock style. If you need a substitute hop any hop from the Hallertau family of hops will work, for example, the Hallertau Mittelfruh.

Junga Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 10 to 13 %

A Polish varietal hop, this is a high alpha acid hop best used as a bittering agent. If you should choose to add later in the brew for aroma purposes you will be pleasantly surprised by hints of blackcurrant, grapefruit, and spice.

This hop works so well in bittering styles such as IPA, Lagers, and Altbiers. If you struggle to find this polish varietal, you could try substituting it with one of our homegrown hops like Nugget or Galena hops.

Magnum Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 10 to 14%

This hop was born from crossing a Galena hop with a German male alpha hop. Available both in their native Germany and here in the States, the German varietal is known as Hallertau Magnum.

Primarily a bittering hop due to the high levels of alpha acids, the Magnum hop only features a mild aroma of herbs, pine, and resin.

As a clean bittering agent the Magnum hop is a very popular ingredient in many styles of ale including IPA, Pale Ales, and even stout. To try magnum at its best, hunt out a bottle of Paulaner’s Extra Dry Premium Pilsner.

Nelson Sauvin Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 12 to 13%

Originally from New Zealand, this is a cross between cultivated Smoothcone hops and wild hops for a versatile bittering agent with high levels of alpha acids.

Reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc vineyards, this hop balances the bittering with an intense fruity aroma. The bright flavors of gooseberry, grapefruit and citrus taste great in beers like APAs, IPAs, and even some lagers.

Other varietals from the same region which can be substituted for Nelson Sauvin hops include Pacifica and Pacific Jade hops.

Sorachi Ace Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 10 to 16%

Would you believe that even the Japanese are getting into the grow-your-own hops scene? More famous for sushi and sake, Japan now has a booming craft beer market. (Check out my article on Japanese beers here.)

This Japanese hop uses a mix of Brewers Gold, a Saaz hop, and a Beiki Male hop from Sapporo Brewers. Originally released in 1984, it’s the main ingredient in Sapporo Lager but with a high alpha acid concentration is ideal as a sharp bittering agent in many IPAs and Pale Ales as well as the lagers.

Sorachi Ace adds an aroma of fresh lemon, citrus, dill, and cilantro to any beer it’s added to. Citra or Simcoe would make good substitutes if you can’t get your hands on the Japanese original. But if you want to taste this unique hop, just grab a can of Sapporo down at the local sushi bar.

Tardif de Burgogne Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 3.1 to 5.5%

Quite a hard-to-find hop, but still worth a mention as we don’t often see French varietals. Used globally, but mainly in European brews, the low levels of alphas mean it is loved for its mild aroma of earthy and florals.

The softer aroma and flavor are ideal for many English and Belgian ales. Finding a substitute hop isn’t easy either, although you could always try a Sonnet hop for a similar soft aroma.

Yakima Gold Hops

Alpha Acid Composition: 8.87 to 10.5%

Another hop released by the prolific Washington State University, the Yakima Gold is a descendent of an Early Cluster with a Slovenian male hop.

A pleasant Saaz-like floral aroma with hints of spice combines with high alpha levels of up to 10.5% for a dual-purpose hop.

This traditional aroma and bitterness work well with dark Ales, IPAs, and some types of lager. If you need to find a substitution, the Yakima Valley hops also from Washington State University will do the job just as well.

Type of Hops – A Few Final Words

There’s a whole world of hops out there for you to experiment with. Most craft beers will make a big deal of which hop they use, so check those labels or the taps at your local bar for inspiration for your next brew.

The good news is that hops won’t ruin your beer. They may make it a different beer from what you expected but often in a good way. Experimentation is recommended rather than just sticking to recipes, who knows you may come up with your own award-winning beer.

Hopefully, the hops I have looked at in detail may give you some more ideas of which hops give each flavor or bitterness level. In addition to some of the more well-known hops, I tried to include some interesting little numbers which make some Ales stand out from the crowd. Let me know if you have any favorite lesser-known hops you like to rave about to your fellow hop heads.

People Also Ask

What is the Aroma of Hops?

Although all hops have their own unique aromas, the general aroma of a hop can be described as a herbaceous resiny smell, especially when fresh which can often smell similar to hemp plants or other perennial green vines. Many would even describe hops as having a spicy aroma.

What are the 3 “C” Hops?

You will often hear many craft brewers talk about the 3 C hops, but which exactly are they?

  • Cascade
  • Columbus
  • Centennial

Many craft beer enthusiasts now consider Chinook hops to be part of the same group so it is often referred to as the Big 4 C hops now. These hops are considered an important grouping as they represent the original flavor and aroma profile of the American craft beer revolution.

What Are 3 Valid Aroma Descriptors You Would Use to Describe Hops?

Essential oils and various other compounds in the hop give each hop its aroma.

A floral aroma is most associated with hops that have a higher percentage of the essential oil farnesene such as the Sterling or Saaz hop.

Myrcene is the essential oil that would give a hop an aroma descriptor of citrussy aroma or piney and is higher in hops like Amarillo, Citra, and Cascade.

Hops with a high percentage of humulene will often be described as having an earthy aroma and include varietals such as East Kent Goldings, Vanguard, and Perle.

Is Corona a Hoppy Beer?

Although Corona certainly uses hops in its production, it’s more of a lager than an ale and doesn’t feature the same hoppy flavor profile or aroma as much American ale, IPAs, or Pale Ales.

The BJCP defines Corona Premium American Lager as a clear, yellow-colored lager that is not hoppy but with more body than a light beer.

What Are the Three Categories of Hops?

Each hop variety will fall into one of three categories depending on what the purpose of the hop is:

Bittering hops will normally have a higher percentage of alpha acids and are added to a brew at the wort stage where the heat converts the alpha acids into iso-alphas which give the beer a bitterness.

Aroma Hops have a lower level of alpha acids but can be high in beta acids. These hops are used for the aroma of the finished ale.

Dual Purpose Hops are also known as flavor hops by some. With a moderate level of alpha or beta acids, they can be added at the start of a brew for that bitterness or used at the end for aroma and flavor.

What Kind of Hops Are Used in IPA?

Hops that are strong in both flavor and bitterness are the go-to choice for an IPA. Classic American hops like Simcoe, Cascade, Amarillo, or Colombus are often used in American IPAs for those citrus characteristics which define an IPA.

Regional varietal hops like Chinook or Northern Brewer are often added later in the boil for pine flavors too.

What Are the 4 Noble Hops?

Originating from Europe, the 4 noble hops are Saaz, Spalt, Tettnanger, and Hallertau Mittelfrüh.

Most commonly used in European lagers or Belgian Ales they give a bittering quality with herbal aroma with hints of floral aromas too with a mild flavor of spice.

How Many Hop Varieties Are There?

At last count, it was estimated there were about 147 hop varieties in the world, but this number is forever growing as innovative brewers cross-breed different hop plants forever in search of new flavors, aromas, and levels of bitterness.

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