Hops for home brewing are one of the main ingredients found in beer, which includes water, malt, yeast, and hops. Hops are the cone shaped flowers from a hop plant called the Humulus Iupulus, a hardy, flowering plant in the hemp family. Hops are grown all over the world, with the largest U.S. hop producers in the Pacific Northwest, although hops are also grown in other areas across the country.
Hops are used for home brewing beer to add flavor, aroma, and bitterness and they also help beer to stay fresher longer. Hops are what allows beer to retain that nice heady foam, which is key in retaining a beer’s flavor and “hoppy” aroma.
Many Types of Hops Varieties
There are a wide variety of hops, each with various elements that intensify the smell, strengthen the bitterness or sweeten the flavor of your beer. Varying levels of alpha acids affect the bitterness of hops and different essential oils control the flavoring and aroma of a hop. You can choose from a wide variety of hops to achieve the flavor and aroma that you desire.
Types of Hoppy Strains
The three main types of hops for home brewing include American, English, and Noble hops, each with a variety of options for your home brew.
American hops are grown in the United States and are known for having stronger aromas due to a high level of myrcene. Some of the most popular strains of American hops for home brewing include Amarillo, Brewers Gold, and Cascade.
Amarillo hops are a versatile hops good for creating both amazing aromas and bitterness. The flavor profile is orange citrus with a lush, orangey aroma that adds fresh flavor to any type of beer. Amarillo hops are a good substitution for Cascade hops, although the distinctive orange flavor is quite different from Cascade making it a great addition to many American Pale Ales. Amarillo hops are popular with microbrewers with an acid level between 8 – 11% and provide a moderate bittering quality.
Brewers Gold Hops
Brewers Gold hops have a spicy flavor profile with a mild aroma and flavor of blackberry currant. They are best used as a bittering hop with an acid level between 6 – 10%. The spice adds a unique flavor to darker brews such as an Imperial Stout.
Cascade hops provide an intense aroma with a flavor profile in the citrus and grapefruit family. They deliver a strong bittering quality with an acid level between 4.5 to 7%. Cascade hops for home brewing give a spicy, citrus aroma to brighten up American Pale Ales, IPAs, and other Ales. Cascade hops are popular for microbrewers and commercial brews, making them a popular choice for all types of American style ales.
Noble hops have a high amount of essential oils to intensify aroma and flavor and are common in the Czech Republic and Germany. A low alpha acid level of 3 to 5% reduces bittering with an herbal, spicy, Earthy flavor profile. Popular Noble hops include Lubelski, Saaz, and Tettnanger hops for home brewing.
Lubelski hops give a floral, lavender or magnolia flavor profile with a low acid level between 3 – 5%. This Polish variety is also known as Lublin hops with a high farnesene oil content to enhance soft floral notes that put a fresh spin on Belgian Ales and Lagers.
Saaz hops is one of the most popular types of hops for home brewing worldwide, originating in the Czech Republic but now grown all over the world. Saaz hops were originally used as an aromatic hop for European lagers, although is popular in Light Lagers, Pilsners and Belgian Ales. Saaz hops are known for a spicy, herbal and Earthy aroma.
Tettnanger hops give a spicy, floral aroma as a traditional Noble hop with a low acid level between 3 – 6%. Tettnanger hops are known for versatility, with a traditional aroma that blends well with other hops and flavors.
English hops are found in England and deliver a mild aroma with a low level of myrcene oil. They give a floral, Earthy and fruity flavor profile with an acid level between 4.5 to 6.5%.
Sovereign hops are a nice balancing hop, fairly new to the home brewing arena as a product of open pollination and a granddaughter of Pioneer hops. Sovereign hops are used for both bittering and aromatic characteristics with a pleasant bitterness similar to that of green tea. The grassy, herbal notes are nice in many types of home brews such as American Lagers, Pale Ales and English Bitters.
Sussex hops are an English variety also a result of open pollination with a soft aroma and fruity flavor. The alpha acid content is fairly low in the range of 4.3 to 5.8% and are not normally used for bittering but more for adding a delicate, citrusy aroma with a well known tropical flavor. Sussex hops are the perfect addition to Pale Ales, English, and Belgian Ales.
Target hops have a relatively high acid level of 8 to 13% and are popular for providing an intense aroma with a strong bittering style. Target hops add a spicy, citrusy, floral, or sage flavor profile that nicely enhance Lagers and English style Ales.
This is just a short list of some of the most popular types of hops, although there are many more options of hops for home brewing.
RainMakers Supply for Hoppy Home Brews
RainMakers Supply can help you to choose the variety of hops for the home brew beer flavor you are looking for. Whether you are a seasoned brewmaster or new to home brewing, our home brew gurus can help you understand the flavors and aromas of the various types of hops and methods for happy hopping.
RainMakers Supply is a leading home brew store in the Chicagoland area, offering all the supplies, equipment, and quality ingredients for successful home brews. We offer expert tips and even home brew classes to get your brew on whether starting out or looking to up your game. Hop on over to RainMakers Supply today for more information on choosing the best hops for home brewing.