Nothing gets a beer nerd excited like talking about hop varieties as if they were valuable collectibles. Even the most bored and haggard brewers will perk up when they hear a discussion about which hop varietal is best for what. Then there are some of the people who are new to this whole beer brewing thing who kind of chuckle nervously because they have no idea what’s happening.
Yeah, if you’re scratching your head at the mention of hops, this article is for you.
We have put together a very exhaustive list of hop varieties for your education and homebrewing success.
What Are Hops?
You most likely have seen hops before. A hop is a little green bud that sometimes grows as long as a rabbit’s ear. When hops are budding, they grow as a crawling vine that hides away from people searching for its delectable hop cones. These plants, known as humulus lupulus, for the science-y people, are brimming with oils and acids that make beer amazing.
Hops, dried or fresh from the field, can be added whole to wort. You can also purchase hop pellets.
How Many Varieties of Hops Exist?
You might be wondering how a single ingredient in beer deserves such attention. Well, that’s because the all important hop is as diverse as humanity. Okay, maybe not as diverse; but with 147 known varieties and more being bred each year, it’s integral to your homebrewing pleasure that you know at least a few.
Why Do We Use Hops in Beer?
Hops don’t always have to be in beer, but they do give you a distinct beer flavor. Whether you add hops before, during, or after you have made your wort, you are changing the taste, smell, and appearance of your beer.
The following compounds are what is responsible for how hops affect beer:
- Alpha Acids
- Beta Acids
- Essential Oils
The essence of all things bitter. Alpha acids Humulone, Adhumulone, and Cohumulone become iso-alpha acids who add bitterness to your beer as they boil—a process called isomerization.
Alpha acids are, basically, responsible for how many parts per million a beer ranks on the International Bitterness Unit (IBU) scale. For instance, a wheat beer might have 11 IBUs, while an IPA could have over 40 IBUs. The wheat beer won’t compare to the IPA in terms of bitterness.
Though hops typically have low levels of beta acid, some varieties of hops are bred to have balanced amounts of both alpha and beta acids. The bitterness from beta acids is sharper. You will most likely notice beta acids after a beer has been stored for a while.
These oils are responsible for the flavor and aromas of a beer. However, essential oils tend to burn off rapidly, which is why aromatic hops are added close to the end of boil.
Humulene adds a hoppy flavor to beer and has a long-lasting impact on how your beer tastes. Caryophyllene is responsible for the spiciness of some beers. Myrcene is found commonly in American-grown hops and adds citrus, pine, and floral notes to beer.
The Ultimate List of Hop Varieties for Homebrewing
147 known varieties of hops. That’s a lot of potential to play around and discover tons of flavor combinations for your home brewed delight. We went and broke the hops down into four categories: noble hops, bittering hops, aromatic hops, and dual purpose.
There are four hop varieties that are considered the oldest and most traditional, making them revered in the beer world. Noble hops are prized because of their unique flavors, aroma, and spice that come only from their origin. Hallertau Mittelfruh, Spalt, Czech Saaz, and Tettnanger hops are also special in another way. These four noble hops have more essential oils like Humulene than other varieties of hops, which means that you are going to pay more to acquire noble hops than you would a hop with less oils.
And, in case you were wondering, the noble hops are actually aromatic hops; Tettnanger hops are the only ones that can be used as a bittering hop.
Want lip-puckering bitterness for an IPA? Use bittering hops. These hops are bred to have greater amounts of alpha acid than aromatic hops but are low in essential oils. You will find that European hops have more alpha acids, so those varieties are often used for bittering. There are some excellent bittering hops from the United States, too, which we’ll introduce below.
Bittering hops include the following:
- Admiral – British; a combination of Northdown and Challenger hops.
- Agnus – Czech; a combination of Fuggles, Saaz, and Northern Brewer, and made for German lagers and ales.
- Apollo – American hop that is added frequently to Imperial IPAs and American Pale Ales.
- Bravo – a British bittering hop that was released by Hopsteiner Breeding Company in 2006.
- Beata – British. A newer varietal (released in 2006) that is great for Blondes and Golden Ales.
- Boadicea – British bittering hop that is bred to be aphid-resistant and environmentally friendly.
- Brewers Gold – created through pollination with Wild Manitoba hops in 1919.
- Chelan – Similar to Galena hops and developed by John I. Haas, Inc.
- Columbus – Also referred to as Zeus, CTZ, or Tomahawk for the pungent kick these hops have. Extremely popular and useful in Pale Ales, Imperial styles, and IPAs.
- Delta – Released in 2009, this American bred hop is a mix of Cascade and Fuggle hops.
- Galena – Created by open pollination with Brewer’s Gold hops in Idaho, US and released in 1978. Galena is used in many beers, from Pale Ales to Oatmeal Stouts.
- Green Bullet – New Zealand hop. The result of a cross-pollination with Smooth Cone hops.
- Hallertauer Taurus – Commonly used in German and Belgian Ales. You can taste Taurus hops in Paulaner’s Brewery Oktoberfest Marzen.
- Herkules – German. A cross between Hull male hops and Hallertau Taurus that the Hull Hop Research Center released in 2005.
- Junga – A Polish hop that has high alpha acid content, making it ideal for Altbiers, Lagers, and IPAs. You can substitute with Galena, Target, or Nugget hops if Junga is too difficult to find.
- German Magnum – A cross between a German male and Galena hops. The German varietal is also called Hallertau Magnum. This can be substituted with Hallertau Taurus or German Nugget.
- American Magnum – Identical to German Magnum, except made in America.
- Merkur – Offspring of the renowned Hallertauer Magnum, Merkur was released in 2000 by the Hull Hop Research Center. It tastes very similar to its parent hop.
- Millennium – You can guess when this one was released. An American hop made from Nugget and Columbus varietals and has a very high alpha acid range.
- Newport – Developed and released in 2002 by the USDA as a descendant of Hallertau Magnum. Used in many American ales for its mild flavors and balsamic aroma.
- Nugget – First released in America in 1982 as a bittering hop. Nugget has become increasingly popular for its strong bittering qualities yet soft, pleasant aromas.
- Pacific Gem – A triploid of Fuggle, Late California Cluster, and Smoothcone hops. Pacific Gem is known for hoppy aromas and a hint of blackberry.
- Pacific Sunrise – Roots from Fuggle, California Cluster, and other similar hops, this New Zealand bred bittering agent is ideal for red and brown ales.
- Pilot – Distinctly balanced hop for bittering that was bred at the UK’s Wye College.
- Southern Star – The tangy descendant of South African Outeniqua hops. It is one of the highest alpha hops to be produced in the region. Southern Star is used in IPAs and DIPAs.
- Summit – A Super Alpha varietal (see below).
- Super Hops – You might see Super Galena, Super Pride, Super Styrian and other varieties with “super” before their name. While the flavor of super hops is similar, they are pumped up with far more alpha acids than the regular hops. These super alpha hops are used primarily for bittering.
- Target – Released as a dual purpose hop from Wye College, Target hops have a nice bittering range and herbal bouquet that is great for English style Ales and Lagers.
- Victoria – The only sister of Galaxy hops to come out of Australia. Due to the high alpha acid profile, Victoria hops can be used to bitter brews and impart a tropical aroma.
- Vital – A product of the 2008 Zatec Breeding Program in the Czech Republic, Vital hops have a powerful bittering quality while giving beer a smooth finish. If you can’t find Vital hops, try Styrian Gold or Saaz.
- Warrior – Not much is known about Warrior hops other than being bred at the Yakima Chief Ranches. Warrior hops are used in the popular Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.
What separates aromatic hops from bitter ones? Their oils. Aromatic hops have a higher percentage of oils, making them more fruity, earthy, and flowery than the bittering varieties. North American hops tend to be more aromatic than European hops, although the exception here is noble hops.
Here’s the list of aromatic hops:
- Aurora – A Super Styrian produced in Slovenia with a distinct flavor that is spicy, mildly bitter, and smooth.
- Hallertau Blanc – A German aromatic best used in late boil additions or dry hopping.
- Bobek – Slovenian hop that is a descendant of Northern Brewer hops.
- Cascade – One of the most popular hops of all time in the US.
- Citra – Bred from East Kent Golding, US Tettnanger and other hops. Highly popular.
- Columbia – Released in Oregon in 1967. Recently available again due to craft beer boom. Ideal for Pale Ales, IPAs, and English Ales.
- Crystal – A blend of Early Green, Cascade, and Brewer’s Gold hops. Released in America first.
- Early Green – Made by the Kirin Brewery Hop Research Center of Japan and used for Kirin Ichiban beer.
- East Kent Goldings – also known as BKG or British Kent Goldings. Originated in England during the 1790s.
- Equinox – Released by Washington’s Hop Breeding Company. The flavor is similar to Citra and Galaxy hops.
- Falconer’s Flight and Falconer’s Flight 7Cs – Similar hops that are a Hop Union exclusive that was released in 2010.
- Fuggle – Dozens of varieties bred around the world and one of the most popular British hops around. You can use it for Belgian beers, English Ales, Red Ales, IPAs and more.
- UK Golding – Have been produced in the UK for over 200 years and is one of the most popular hops.
- US Golding – A newer varietal of the beloved UK Golding hop.
- Hallertau – A noble hop that has multiple varieties found throughout the world. The most popular regions for growth are the US, New Zealand, and Germany. You may also find this called Traditional or Hallertau Tradition.
- Hallertauer Mittelfruh – One of the four noble hops.
- HBC 472 – From Yakima Valley’s Hop Breeding Company. This experimental hop has unique characteristics that make it great for barrel-aged beers, stouts, porters, and pale ales.
- Hersbrucker and Hersbrucker Pure – A German hop that is widely available and used throughout the world. You may also see this hop referred to as Hallertau Hersbrucker. The Hersbrucker Pure is a spin-off that Anheuser Busch created.
- Huell Melon – Also spelled Hull Melon, this “flavor hop” has a fruity character. It was released in 2012.
- Jester – A new addition develop in the UK by Charles Faram. Jester is noted to be punchy and flavorful, the perfect compliment to English Ales and IPAs.
- Liberty – An American hop that is zesty and spicy. Use it in any German style beer, such as Bocks, Kolsch, and Pilsners.
- Lublin/Lubelski – The Polish varietal of the ever popular Czech Saaz. Mild aroma and high farnesene oil content.
- Mandarina Bavaria – Another new kid on the block that was released in 2012. This German hop has a fruity aroma alongside a higher alpha acid content.
- Medusa – A hop that is native to New Mexico and Colorado, US. It’s called Medusa because the cone has multiple heads. High in Myrcene oil and low in alpha acid; best added into whirlpools or when dry hopping.
- Meridian – This hop is produced in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and is still in the experimental stages, but you can try it in Base Camp Brewing Co.’s Lost Meridian Witbier.
- Mosaic – American-bred cross between Simcoe and Nugget hops. Right now, Mosaic hops are in high demand, because it can be used with any beer style.
- Motueka – Also known as New Zealand Motueka or B Saaz, these are obviously of the Saaz line. This hop brightens up lagers and ales alike.
- Mount Hood – The half sister of Crystal, Liberty, and Ultra hops that was released in 1989 in Oregon.
- Orbit – From the New Zealand program Hops With a Difference. Orbit hops are difficult to come by outside of NZ, but they are often used for seasonal NZ brews, so you might have a chance to try it!
- Pacific Hallertau or Pacifica – German flavor borne of New Zealand soil.
- Palisade – Open pollination mixed with Tettnanger hops in Washington state.
- Riwaka – A product of the Hort Research Center in NZ that has Saaz parentage.
- Saaz – A noble hop that hails from Saaz in the Czech Republic.
- Santiam – A cross between Mittelfruh and Tettnanger hops that has a black pepper fragrance. It’s used in Pilsners, Bocks, Belgian Ales, and Munich Helles.
- Saphir – Also known as Sapphire, Saphire, or Hallertau Saphir, this German hop has some of the lowest alpha acids in the world and is a good match for Wheats and Witbiers.
- Savinjski Golding – Also known as Styrian Golding hops. Mildly spicy, floral, and herbaceous, these hops have a very low alpha range that compliments Belgian Ales, ESBs, and Lagers.
- Spalter and Spalter Select – Two related hops from Germany that are also referred to as Spault or Spaulter Spault. The first is naturally occuring, while the Select variety is a mix between Mittelfruh and Spault. They are floral, fruity, and hoppy with a unique balance of alpha and beta acids.
- Strisselspalt – French varietal that natural grows around the Strasbourg region. Has balanced alpha and beta acids and is perfect for Maibocks, Saisons, and Belgian Ales.
- Summer – An Australian hop bred for dry hopping and their melon flavor.
- Sussex – An English hop that is suspected to be caused by open pollination with the wild East Sussex varietal.
- Sylva – Produced during open pollination of Czech Saaz hops.
- Tahoma – Daughter of Glacier hops and used for aroma. Tahoma hops imbue pepper, cedar, citrus, and pine notes to beer.
- Tettnanger – You may see this referred to as Schwetzinger, Deutscher Fruhopfen, or Tettnang as well. These noble hops are grown around the world, including the US, Switzerland, and Australia.
- Triple Pearl – Produced in Yakima Valley, Washington, these hops are the result of pollination between Perle and an unknown male hop descended from Hallertau and Northern Brewer.
- Triskel – A mix of English Yeoman and French Strisselspalt hops. Ideal for Belgian Ales and IPAs, due to the floral and fruity notes.
- Ultra – Bred from Mittelfruh and is related to Liberty, Crystal, and Mt. Hood hops. Grown almost exclusively in the US.
- Vanguard – Part of the Hallertauer lineage and developed in the US to be added to Belgian style ales. Dogfish Head’s Steampunk Porter utilizes Vanguard hops.
- Viking – New release from Wye College in the UK that has spicy, herbal, and floral notes suitable for any beer style.
- Wai-iti – A new addition to NZ varietals, the Wai-iti and Kohatu hops were released at the same time. Wai-iti hops have more citrusy notes that is excellent for fruity craft beers.
Whitbread Golding (WGV) – UK-bred hop that is a varietal of a traditional English hop.
- Zappa – Named after the famous Rock and Roller, Frank Zappa, this neomexicanus hop has a fruity and minty profile that does well in fruit-based beers or even milkshake IPAs.
- Zythos – A trademarked aroma or dual purpose hop that is ideal for IPAs and Pale Ales.
Dual Purpose Hops
Looking for hops that could go either way? Dual purpose hops have a balance of oils, flavors, and aromas that make them effective as both aromatic and bittering hops. Many of these hops are sourced from all around the world.
- Ahtanum – American Pacific Northwest; used in Dogfish Head’s Blood Orange Hefeweizen beer.
- Amarillo – American
- Aramis – Crossbreed of Strisselspalt (French) and Whitbread Golding (English) hops.
- Belma – American dual purpose bittering hop that compliments Pale Malt Ales. Pairs well with Zythos, Calypso, and Citra hops.
- Bitter Gold – A very acidic American varietal.
- Bramling Cross – British hop that was made by crossing regular Bramling hops with wild Canadian hops.
- Calypso – An American Pacific Northwest hop that is grown for both aromatic and bittering properties.
- Cascade – Developed by the United States Department of Agriculture in Oregon in 1972 but has been cultivated around the world.
- Cashmere – A newer American varietal that was released in 2013 and gives beers a silky smooth quality.
- Celeia – From the Hop Research Institute in Zalec, Slovenia.
- Centennial – A mixture of Brewer’s Gold, Fuggle, and East Kent Goldings hops. Centennial is used in many commercial beers, including Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale.
- Challenger – British. A blend of Northern Brewer and Northdown that was developed by Wye College.
- Chinook – American
- Cluster – One of the oldest hops from the US but also grown in Australia and New Zealand. Similar to the Galena hop.
- Dr. Rudi – New Zealand
- El Dorado – Released in 2010 from American CLS Farms. Heavy aroma and high alpha acid.
- Ella – Australian. Sister of the Galaxy hop and bred from Triploid and Spalt hops.
- First Gold – British hop that is useful for boiling and dry hopping, adding flavor to Porters, IPAs, English Ales, and more.
- Fuggle – British
- Galaxy – Australian. Try it out in Flying Dog’s Single Hop Galaxy Imperial IPA.
- Glacier – Released in 2000 from Washington State University.
- Hallertau Aroma – A varietal of Hallertau bred specifically for aromatics.
- HBC 342 Experimental Hop – An American hop released in 2021 by Hop Union and Hop Breeding Co. Very versatile and can be used interchangeably with Simcoe hops.
- HBC 431 – Another experimental hop.
- HBC 438 – Another experimental hop that was recently renamed Sabro in 2018 by the Hop Breeding Company.
- Helga – A hop bred in Australia that was made to mimic the characteristics of Germany’s Hallertauer Mittelfruh hops.
- Herald – Has a sharp bittering quality. A cross between Pilgrim and Pioneer hops.
- Horizon – The American sister of Nugget hops that also shares relations with Early Green and Brewer’s Gold hops.
- Idaho Gem – From Parma, Idaho, this hop by Gooding Farms is suitable as an aromatic that works best during dry hopping. It’s said to taste like a Jolly Rancher.
- Kohatu – A New Zealand hop that has characteristics similar to the Wai-iti hop. Due to a low alpha acid profile, this is a great hop for developing a well rounded beer that is equally bitter as it is aromatic.
- Marynka – A widely produced Polish hop that was registered in 1988. Since then, it has been used in many European beers. If you’re in the UK, you can try Marston’s Single Hop Marynka IPA to see how the hop tastes.
- Mount Rainer – Born of a complex mixing of Magnum and Hallertauer hops during research at Oregon State University. Moderate bittering and pleasantly aromatic.
- Nelson Sauvin – Crossbreed between wild hops and New Zealand Smoothcone. A unique hop with fruity aromas and high alpha acids that creates impressively balanced brews.
- Northdown – Born from German male hops and Northern Brewer, Northdown has been around since the 1970s.
- German Northern Brewer – A traditional bittering hop bred at Wye College that was blended with Canterbury Golding and Brewer’s Gold. The German version has been available since the 1940s.
- American Northern Brewer – A newer spin-off of the popular German variant of Northern Brewer.
- Opal – German hop from the Hull Hop Research Center that is similar to Tettanger and East Kent Goldings.
- Orion – German bred, dual purpose hop that is chosen for Helles and Pilsner beers.
- Outeniqua – A South African hop that is the mother of Southern Star hops.
- Pacific Jade – New Zealand hop. A cross between a New Zealand First Choice hop and a Saaz male. Can be used as a substitute for Pacific Gem and vice versa.
- Perle – German and American varieties. Perle was bred from English Northern Brewer to be clean and effective at bittering.
- Phoenix – Similar to Challenger hops and ideal for Porters, Stouts, and Bitters because of the aromas of molasses and chocolate.
- Pilgrim – Of the same line as Herald and First Gold hops.
- Pioneer – From the UK Wye Omega line. Pioneer is related to Herald hops and has citrus notes.
- Polaris – German varietal with an astoundingly high amount of alpha acids.
- Premiant – Czech hop that is related to Saaz hops.
Pride of Ringwood – Replaced the Pride of Kent hops and is commonly used for Pale Ales, Australian Lagers, and Lambic.
- Progress – Replica of Fuggle hops with a high alpha acid content and grassy aromas.
Rakau – Although dual purpose, New Zealand bred Rakau hops are crisp yet contain enough alpha acids to add bitterness to any beer. Since Rakau hops can be hard to find, you can sub in Summit or Amarillo hops.
- Simcoe – Comparable to Cascade for the light aroma and moderate alpha acid range that compliments all beer styles.
- Smaragd – A rare hop formerly known as Emerald and is the descendant of Hallertau Hold.
- Sonnet – A US-bred Saaz with Golding qualities that was recently released from Oregon.
- Sorachi Ace – Designed by Sapporo Brewers, Sorachi Ace utilizes elements of Saaz, Beiki, and Brewer’s Gold. This is the main hop used in Sapporo lagers.
- Southern Brewer – The varietal from South Africa that was created from a cross between open pollination and Fuggle hops.
- Southern Cross – A hybrid of English Fuggle and Smoothcone.
- Southern Promise – The result of Southern Brewer (South African) blended with wild Slovenian hops. Clean yet hoppy.
- Sovereign – Well-rounded hop released from Wye College that is related to Pioneer hops.
- Sterling – Saaz parentage and a mix of Cascade, Early Green, and Brewer’s Gold.
- Sticklebract – Bred in New Zealand, these are the result of open pollination with First Choice hops and wild ones. A robust profile and high alpha acid content comparable to Northern Brewer.
- Sybilla – A Polish hop created by the merging of a Lublin mother and a wild Yugoslavian male.
- Topaz – An Australian hybrid used in Samuel Adams’ Tasman Red IPA.
- Waimea – Related to Pacific Jade hops that provides equal bittering and aromatics.
- Wakatu – A New Zealand hop that is substantially balanced and works as a more mild Mittelfruh.
- Willamette – An American-bred hop that tastes a little English and works with any beer style.
Final Thoughts – Sweet Hoppity HOP!
Hops, so many hops! Which ones are you mostly likely to choose? Or do you aim to try them all? Hopefully, you now understand enough about hops that you will be able to seek out the appropriate ones for your greatest homebrew beer masterpiece.
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