row of craft brews in a wooden table

Beer Essentials: The Most Popular Hops for Craft Brews

Craft Brew Boom

For Americans, there’s nothing quite like cracking a cold one with the boys. Alcohol has been a part of the country’s celebrations for centuries, with beer being the most popular drink. In fact, a 2018 report by polling firm Gallup found that about 43% of Americans who enjoy alcohol prefer beer. And this has almost always been the case, as beer only came second to wine in the mid-2000s. People love this drink so much that they’re going beyond the commercial options and exploring specialty ones known as craft beer.

Business is booming for small-town breweries. They’ve tripled in growth from 2012 to 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau found. More people are looking for complex and unique-tasting drinks, similar to the growing affinity for specialty coffee. The intricate flavors of beer often depend on the types of hops that brewing artisans use. What are hops and how do they contribute to the taste of your beer?

Flowering Flavor

If you want to make basic beer, only three ingredients are needed to make it. These are yeast, water, and barley. But this combination alone makes for a very dull, flavorless brew. So, people started adding all sorts of herbs and spices to make the drink more palatable. The most popular fourth ingredient is a flower from a hop plant, also known as “hops.” These green, papery cones are responsible for the drink’s enjoyably bitter taste.

For craft brewers, however, hops offer more than just bitterness. Each type of hop adds a different depth, flavor, and aroma to the brew. Here’s what you need to know about them.

  • Galaxy Galaxy hops are Australian-breed flowers, which give your brew a citrus, passion fruit, or peach aroma and taste. These hops are best added late into your brew to preserve this fruity flavor.
  • Cascade – This American-grown hop was discovered in a joint effort by the United States Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University to reinvigorate the country’s beer industry after the prohibition era. It features a floral scent with hints of citrus and grapefruit.
  • Centennial – Washington State University researchers discovered the centennial in 1974. The hop found its way into the mainstream market in 1990. It has a citrus flavor and aroma similar to a cascade, but with earthy notes and a more potent bitterness.
  • Chinook – Mainly cultivated in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, this hop is known for its spicy and grapefruit flavor and its bitter qualities. If you want to create a brew with a strong kick, this is the flower for you.
  • Mosaic – This fairly new breed is a popular choice among brewers who want to create a sweet, fruity beer. It’s known for having a “mosaic” of flavors and aromas, which include citrus, mango, and even blueberry.
  • Willamette – Willamette is one of the oldest and most popular hops among commercial and craft brewers. This is because of the hops’ versatility. It’s known for having fruity, floral, and even spicy notes that are perfect for any brew.

Creating the perfect brew is a lot like painting. The barley, yeast, and water serve as your canvas and the hops, your paint. Start with one type that tastes and smells nice to you, and experiment with brew times and temperatures. If you think it needs more depth, don’t be afraid to add more hops to your beer. The practice, passion, and patience you put into choosing and blending these ingredients are worth it once you create a brew that’s unique to you. 

Great Quality Hops for Great Prices

beer tasters surrounded by hops

Hops are the heart of your beer, as they provide most of the flavor and aroma. As such, you shouldn’t skimp on its quality. Hop Havoc provides a wide variety of premium yet affordable hops in the mid-Atlantic. We supply the most in-demand varieties, from Galaxy to Willamette. Our wide selection and excellent service are why over 1,400 brewers across the U.S. count on us for all their hop needs.

Contact us today to get flavorful and fresh hops for your brewing business.

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