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Exploring the Fascinating World of Craft Beer Hops: The Key Players in Craft Beer


Hops are an essential ingredient in craft beer, bringing distinctive flavours, aromas, and bitterness to the brew. Craft brewers have embraced a diverse range of hop varieties, allowing them to create unique and captivating beer experiences. In this blog post, we will dive into the fascinating world of hops, exploring the main types used in craft beer production and the flavours they impart. Get ready for a hop-filled journey through the art and science of brewing!

The Importance of Hops in Craft Beer

Craft beer is all about pushing boundaries and creating exceptional flavour profiles. Hops play a crucial role in achieving this by providing bitterness, aroma, and flavour to balance the sweetness of malted barley. They act as a natural preservative and contribute to the beer’s stability, head retention, and overall drinkability. Craft brewers carefully select hops to create a harmonious blend of flavours and aromas that complement the beer’s style and character.

The Main Types of Hops Used in Craft Beer

Craft brewers have access to an extensive variety of hop cultivars, each with its own distinct characteristics. Let’s explore some of the key players in the world of craft beer hops:

Cascade Hops

Cascade hops are an American classic, known for their pleasant floral, citrusy, and grapefruit-like aromas. They provide a moderate level of bitterness and are often used in American Pale Ales and IPAs. Cascade hops have contributed to the rise of the West Coast IPA style, with their signature citrusy punch.

Centennial Hops

Centennial hops offer a balanced profile with floral, citrus, and piney aromas. They have a moderate alpha acid content, providing a pleasant bitterness to the beer. Centennial hops are commonly used in American IPAs and American-style Pale Ales, adding complexity to the hop character.

Citra Hops

Citra hops have gained immense popularity in recent years for their explosive tropical fruit flavours and aromas. With notes of mango, passion fruit, grapefruit, and citrus, Citra hops deliver a vibrant and juicy character to beers. They are widely used in New England IPAs, Pale Ales, and other hop-forward styles.

Simcoe Hops

Simcoe hops offer a unique blend of pine, citrus, and earthy flavours. They have a high alpha acid content, resulting in a pronounced bitterness. Simcoe hops are often used in IPAs and Double IPAs, adding complexity and depth to the beer’s hop profile.


Amarillo Hops

Amarillo hops exhibit a delightful mix of floral and citrus characteristics. They contribute flavours of orange, grapefruit, and tangerine, enhancing the beer’s aroma and flavour. Amarillo hops are versatile and can be used in various beer styles, including American Pale Ales and IPAs.

Mosaic Hops

Mosaic hops are known for their complex profile of tropical fruit, berry, citrus, and pine flavours. They impart bold and enticing aromas, making them a favourite choice for hop-forward beers. Mosaic hops are commonly used in IPAs, Pale Ales, and hazy beers, adding layers of fruity complexity to the brew.

Hallertau Hops

Hallertau hops, originating from Germany, contribute mild floral, herbal, and spicy flavours to beers. They are often used in German-style lagers, Pilsners, and wheat beers, adding a touch of traditional European character.

Saaz Hops

Saaz hops, another classic variety from the Czech Republic, offering delicate floral, earthy, and spicy flavours. They are a key ingredient in European-style lagers and Pilsners, adding a refined and classic touch to these traditional beer styles.

Craft beer hops

Nelson Sauvin

Nelson Sauvin hops, originating from New Zealand, are known for their unique and distinctive flavours. With pronounced characteristics of white wine, gooseberry, and tropical fruit, Nelson Sauvin hops add a delightful and refreshing twist to craft beers. They are highly sought after for their intense aroma and contribute to the complexity of hop-forward styles such as IPAs and Pale Ales.


Chinook hops, a versatile hop variety from the United States, offer a bold and robust flavour profile. With their distinct pine, grapefruit, and spicy notes, Chinook hops add a delightful bitterness and a resinous character to craft beers. They are commonly used in IPAs and are particularly popular for their ability to provide a balanced hop profile with both citrus and pine qualities.


Columbus hops, also known as CTZ (Columbus, Tomahawk, Zeus), are prized for their high alpha acid content and pungent aroma. With their intense citrus, floral, and earthy notes, Columbus hops contribute to the bold and assertive nature of craft beers. They are frequently used in IPAs, Double IPAs, and other hop-forward styles, providing a strong bitterness and a resinous character that leaves a lasting impression.


Galaxy hops, hailing from Australia, are celebrated for their vibrant tropical fruit flavours and intense aroma. With their passionfruit, citrus, and peach notes, Galaxy hops bring a burst of juicy goodness to craft beers. They are highly sought after for their ability to create a tropical paradise in each sip and are commonly used in IPAs, Pale Ales, and other fruit-forward styles.

El Dorado

El Dorado hops, named after the legendary city of gold, deliver a treasure trove of fruity flavours. With their distinctive watermelon, pear, and stone fruit notes, El Dorado hops offer a unique and captivating taste experience. They are highly prized for their ability to contribute to the juicy and aromatic qualities of craft beers, particularly in IPAs and Pale Ales.

Idaho 7

Idaho 7 hops, developed in the United States, provide a delightful blend of tropical fruit, citrus, and pine flavours. With their captivating pineapple, mango, and tangerine notes, Idaho 7 hops offer a luscious and exotic taste experience. They are highly regarded for their versatility and are used in various beer styles, including IPAs, Pale Ales, and experimental brews.


Sabro hops, renowned for their coconut-like flavour and tropical fruit character, add a distinct and indulgent twist to craft beers. With their rich coconut, citrus, and tangerine notes, Sabro hops create a tropical paradise in each sip. They are frequently used in IPAs, Pale Ales, and fruit-forward styles, providing a delightful and refreshing hop profile.


Fuggles hops, originating from England, bring a classic and traditional touch to craft beers. With their earthy, floral, and subtle fruity notes, Fuggles hops contribute to the authentic English character of beer styles such as Bitters, Pale Ales, and Porters. They are highly regarded for their delicate aroma and balanced bitterness, adding depth and complexity to the brew.

Barley field, agricultural farm


Perle hops, a versatile hop variety from Germany, offer a refined and balanced flavour profile. With their clean bitterness, herbal aroma, and subtle spice notes, Perle hops contribute to a wide range of beer styles. They are frequently used in German lagers, wheat beers, and English-style ales, providing a reliable and consistent hop character that enhances the overall balance of the brew.


Magnum hops, often referred to as the noble workhorse of craft beer, bring a reliable and versatile character to brewing. With their clean bitterness, herbal aroma, and subtle spice notes, Magnum hops have become a go-to choice for brewers seeking a dependable hop variety. They are frequently used as a primary bittering hop in various beer styles, providing a solid foundation and allowing other hop and malt flavours to shine.


Loral hops, celebrated for their exquisite floral aroma and versatile flavour profile, add a touch of elegance to craft beer. With their captivating blend of floral, citrus, and herbal notes, Loral hops have gained popularity among brewers. They are commonly used in Pale Ales, IPAs, and Belgian-style ales, contributing to a refined and aromatic hop character that complements the beer’s overall profile.

barley field

Styrian Goldings

Originating from Slovenia, Styrian Goldings is a classic European hop known for its delicate, earthy, and floral aroma. It’s often used in traditional English-style ales and lagers, imparting a subtle and pleasant bitterness.


Hailing from the United States, Azacca is a relatively new hop that has gained popularity for its tropical fruit-forward character, including notes of mango, pineapple, and citrus. It lends a distinct flavour to India Pale Ales (IPAs) and pale ales, making them refreshing and vibrant.


As a high-alpha bittering hop, Nugget is valued for its strong herbal and spicy characteristics. It is frequently employed in the early stages of brewing to provide a robust bitterness that sets the foundation for a wide range of beer styles.


Another American hop, Willamette is prized for its mild and pleasant woody aroma, with subtle floral notes. This versatile hop is often used in English-style ales and some lagers, contributing to a balanced and approachable taste.


Formerly known as Equinox, Ekuanot is a multi-purpose hop that brings an intriguing blend of fruity, herbal, and spicy attributes. Its complex flavour profile makes it a favourite among brewers for enhancing both aroma and taste in various beer styles.


Sharing a genetic heritage with the noble Hallertau hop, Liberty is an American-grown variety that offers delicate floral and spicy tones. Suitable for lagers and lighter ales, it imparts a refined elegance to the beer.

Pacific Gem

Coming from New Zealand, Pacific Gem is a unique hop with intense berry and blackberry notes, accompanied by subtle spicy undertones. It adds a distinct twist to dark ales and stouts, contributing to a rich and complex flavour profile.


With its high alpha acids content, Summit is primarily used as a bittering hop. Alongside its significant bitterness, it also delivers bold citrus and resinous flavours, often elevating the character of strong ales and IPAs.


As another high-alpha hop, Galena is prized for its clean and mild bitterness, making it an excellent choice for bittering ales and stouts. It imparts a subtle fruitiness that balances the beer’s overall taste.


Known for its herbal and spicy aroma, Sterling is a versatile hop that complements a wide range of beer styles. Its delicate yet distinctive flavour profile makes it suitable for various applications, from ales to lagers.


Often referred to as Columbus or CTZ (Columbus, Tomahawk, Zeus), this American hop variety is known for its pungent and earthy flavours. It’s particularly favoured in American-style ales and stouts, contributing to their robust and bold character.

The Impact of Hop Selection on Beer Flavours

Hop selection plays a vital role in shaping the flavour profile of craft beers. Different hop varieties can contribute to a spectrum of flavours, ranging from floral and herbal to citrusy and tropical. The choice of hops depends on the desired beer style and the specific characteristics the brewer wants to achieve. Craft brewers carefully consider factors such as alpha acid content, essential oil composition, and flavour profiles when selecting hops to create a balanced and harmonious brew.

Exploring Hop-Forward Beer Styles

The diverse range of hop varieties available to craft brewers has given rise to several hop-forward beer styles. Let’s explore a few popular examples:

India Pale Ales (IPAs)

IPAs have become synonymous with hoppy beers. They showcase a strong hop bitterness and aroma, with variations such as West Coast IPAs, New England IPAs, and Double IPAs. IPAs typically feature a prominent hop character, and different hop varieties can significantly impact the beer’s flavour profile.

Pale Ales

Pale Ales offer a milder hop profile compared to IPAs, making them more approachable for those new to hop-forward beers. They provide a balanced combination of malt sweetness and hop bitterness, with hops contributing to the beer’s aroma and flavour.

Hazy IPAs

Hazy IPAs, also known as New England IPAs, have gained immense popularity for their hazy appearance and juicy hop flavours. These beers prioritise hop aroma and flavour over bitterness, resulting in a smooth and fruit-forward experience.

Session IPAs

Session IPAs are characterised by lower alcohol content and a more moderate hop profile compared to their higher ABV counterparts. These beers offer a refreshing and hop-forward experience while maintaining drinkability and balance.

Double IPAs

Double IPAs, also called Imperial IPAs, take hop intensity to the next level. These beers feature a significant hop presence, often with higher alcohol content, resulting in a robust and bold hop flavour.

Craft Beer’s Ongoing Love Affair with Hops

Craft brewers continually push the boundaries of hop usage, experimenting with new hop varieties and innovative brewing techniques. With each passing year, exciting hop cultivars are developed, offering brewers even more possibilities to create unique and captivating beers. Hops remain at the forefront of the craft beer revolution, allowing brewers to craft a vast array of flavours and experiences for beer enthusiasts worldwide.

Hops are the backbone of craft beer, bringing bitterness, aroma, and flavour to the brew. Craft brewers have a diverse range of hop varieties at their disposal, each offering distinct characteristics and contributing to the beer’s overall profile. Whether it’s the citrus punch of Cascade, the tropical explosion of Citra, or the piney goodness of Simcoe, hops play a vital role in shaping the flavours and aromas that beer lovers seek. So, the next time you sip on a craft beer, take a moment to appreciate the magic of hops and the creative artistry of the brewers who harness their potential to craft exceptional brews.

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