Brewers use hops in beer for numerous reasons ranging from bitterness to flavor. And craft brewers are particularly known for using a substantial amount of hop varieties. With craft beer sales making up more than 12 percent of the US beer market, the demand for unique hop varieties increases every year.
Production of hops has grown 50 percent since 2012, according to the US Department of Agriculture, driven by the explosion of craft breweries and America’s growing taste for hoppy beer. This year, US hop production is expected to hit yet another record high, with a Northwest hop harvest of 91.8 million pounds.
During the annual hop harvest, which occurs between August and September, hop varieties that have reached their peak maturities are harvested. Typically, the hop cones are mechanically removed from the trellis and placed in trucks that immediately deliver to the cleaning facility. There, hop cones are separated from any remaining leaves and stems using a sophisticated array of belts, fans and screens. Hops are then sent to kilns for drying.
Once the hops are dried to the proper moisture content, they cool for up to 24 hours before being baled in breathable material. Bales are then be inspected and probe-tested for moisture, temperature and stem and leaf content.
Due to the long, complex hop breeding process, there’s much anticipation to try and use these new, fresh hops. Each variety is the culmination of many years’ work, and only a few hop varieties reach commercial markets each year, which has hop breeders thinking years ahead.
Every year, hop farms invite customers, brewers, friends and hopheads to get a look at the entire spectrum of the world of hops and even personally select brewer’s cuts of each variety after thoroughly grading them by appearance and aroma.
This year’s hop harvest is set to be the biggest in history. That being said, here are some of the cool, new hop varieties to keep your eye on out of hop harvest this year.
Denali is a dual purpose hop, originated from a cross between Nugget, Zeus and USDA 19058 male. Denali has a big aroma that imparts pineapple with notes of citrus and pine.
This hop is popular with brewers who are looking for a distinct, impactful flavor in their beers. Denali has an unusually high total essential oil content averaging more than 4 grams oil/100 grams of raw hops.
Denali hops are often used in Pale Ales, such as Schlafly’s Hop Trial Denali.
Formerly known as Experimental Hop #01210, Lemondrop hops are grown in the US, and are known for their unique lemon-citrus character. This aroma-type hop, originated from a cross between Cascade and USDA 19058 male, creating a lemon, mint, green tea, melon aroma.
Lemondrop is a superb hop with a unique combination of fruity and herbal notes, ideal for Pilsners and Wheat Beers along with IPA’s, Pale Ales, and Saisons.
Lemondrop boasts fantastic lemony-citrus aroma and flavor for late kettle additions or dry hopping.
Lemondrop hops are used in beers such as Deschutes Brewery’s 2015 Chasin’ Freshies Fresh Hop IPA, Other Half Brewing’s Microgreen Session IPA, and Stone Brewing’s Delicious IPA. (Note – Chasin Freshies was a one-time seasonal and is no longer available).
Eureka!, also known as Experimental 05256, has an aroma that really packs a punch – strong bittering qualities and a complex and robust flavor and aroma profile with a black currant, dark fruit and a strong dank herbal character.
Eureka! imparts flavors of pine, citrus, resin, tropical and dark fruit along with aromas of grapefruit rind, citrus and tangerine. It is the offspring of varietals Apollo and Merkur.
Try Eureka in Kane Brewing’s HopLab: Eureka that showcases Eureka’s dark fruit, pine and resinous flavors and aromas.
Calypso is a diploid aroma-type hop, originated from a cross between breeding female 98005 and a male derived from Nugget and USDA 19058m.
Calypso hops have a unique aroma and flavor that covers a wide spectrum of lemon, cherry blossoms, black pepper, bitter orange, mint, hints of tropical fruit and sappy, pronounced pear.
Calypso hops are ideal for Ales, Stouts, Barley Wines, and IPAs, like New Belgium Brewing’s Rampant Imperial IPA.
Unlike the other hop varieties with a citrus, juicy character, experimental hop #07270 has a strong dank and resinous character. With a spicy, resinous, tangerine and black pepper aroma, you can expect a big and bold presence with this hop.
Found in Right Proper Brewing Company’s American Pale Wheat Ale, Range Life, experimental #07270 provides an earthy flavor.
This experimental hop, bred from mostly Cascade hops, has a big orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime character with tropical, juicy, and floral back notes.
With this hop’s floral character and spicy kick, this hop is a great for Pale Ales, especially IPAs, like Tired Hands Brewing’s experimental pilsner You’re Not Dead, Chill Out.
Multi-use hop, Bravo, is a high alpha hop that imparts bold and intriguing flavors to beers. It has and can be used in the brewhouse and/or post-fermentation additions. Dry hop notes include Candy Orange.
Bravo’s heritage is based on the super alpha American hop variety “Zeus” and a vigorous and disease resistance male developed in the breeding program.