Hop Flavors and Aromas

The importance of hops flavors in beer tasting within the modern craft brewing industry cannot be overstated. As the craft beer movement has evolved, so too has the demand for bold, unique, and complex flavor profiles that challenge and delight the palates of beer enthusiasts. Hops have emerged as a key ingredient in satisfying this demand, providing a vast array of flavors and aromas that range from fruity and floral to earthy and spicy. This has led to a surge in hop-forward beer styles, such as the American IPA, which places a heavy emphasis on the hop character, showcasing the ingredient's multifaceted nature and depth.

In addition to adding a new dimension to beer tasting, hops have also helped elevate the status of craft brewing as an art form. The judicious selection, combination, and application of different hop varieties can have a transformative effect on a beer's flavor and aroma, akin to how a skilled chef uses a blend of spices to create a culinary masterpiece. This has resulted in a renaissance within the brewing community, with brewers pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation in their quest to develop new and exciting hop-driven beer styles. As a result, the exploration of hops flavors has become an integral part of the modern craft brewing, fostering a culture of experimentation and appreciation for the seemingly endless possibilities that hops can bring to the world of beer.

Explore hops our comprehensive list of flavors to enhance your own brewing experience.

Fruity Flavors

Fruity flavors often include stone fruits, such as peach, apricot, and cherry, as well as other fruits like apple, pear, and berry. The fruity characteristics originate from compounds called terpenes, which contribute to the unique and diverse flavors found in hops. By carefully selecting and combining different hop varieties, brewers craft a balanced and enticing array of fruity notes that enrich the overall sensory experience of the beer.

Descriptor # Hops Examples
Apple 6 Magnum, Ekuanot, Spalter Select
Apricot 25 Amarillo, Simcoe, Chinook
Banana 8 Spalter, Jarrylo, Jester
Berries 32 Simcoe, Chinook, Mosaic
Black Currant 9 Brewer's Gold, Comet, Progress
Black Tea 4 Tettnanger, Spalter, Idaho 7
Blackberry 9 Glacier, Pacific Gem, Southern Passion
Blueberry 6 Mosaic, African Queen, Styrian Wolf
Bubblegum 12 Simcoe, Mosaic, Mandarina Bavaria
Cassis 6 Strisselspalt, Progress, African Queen
Cherry 4 Monroe, HBC 630, Bergamot
Currant 13 Galena, Idaho 7, Bramling Cross
Dried Fruit 2 Dr. Rudi, Boadicea
Elderberry 1 Willamette
Fig 2 Rakau, Traful
Fruity 103 Cascade, Simcoe, Perle
Gooseberry 13 Citra, Nelson Sauvin, Galena
Grapes 5 Nelson Sauvin, Hallertauer Blanc, Hydra
Green Fruit 2 Perle, Akoya
Loganberry 2 Bramling Cross, Endeavour
Nectar 3 Hallertauer Tradition, Slavyanka, Hokitika
Nectarine 2 McKenzie, ADHA-527
Peach 37 Citra, Amarillo, Galaxy
Pear 18 El Dorado, Galena, Calypso
Plum 7 Glacier, Green Bullet, Bramling
Pomegranate 1 TNT Blend
Quince 1 Southern Dawn
Raspberry 8 Enigma, Aramis, Barbe Rouge
Red Berries 2 First Gold, Callista
Red Currant 1 Lilly
Red Fruit 1 Bullion
Stone Fruit 46 Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe
Strawberry 19 Hüll Melon, Saphir, Cashmere
Watermelon 7 El Dorado, Bitter Gold, Evergreen
White Wine 6 Nelson Sauvin, Hallertauer Blanc, Enigma
Whitegrape 1 Godiva

Citrus Flavors

Citrus flavor notes come from natural aromatic compounds, such as linalool, humulene, and geraniol, that provide distinct citrus-like characteristics to the beer's taste and aroma profile. These notes can range from zesty lemon, tangy orange, or juicy grapefruit to more exotic flavors like tangerine or lime. Some popular hop varieties that exhibit citrus qualities are Citra, Amarillo, Cascade, and Centennial. Citrus notes contribute to the overall freshness and crispness of a beer, making them a popular choice for various styles such as IPAs, Pale Ales, and American Wheat Beers.

Descriptor # Hops Examples
Bergamot 6 Strisselspalt, Saphir, Lubelska
Citrus 181 Cascade, Citra, Centennial
Clementine 2 Hydra, Vinnie Special
Grapefruit 60 Cascade, Citra, Centennial
Kiwi 1 Eclipse
Kumquat 1 Barbe Rouge
Lemon 61 Centennial, Amarillo, Magnum
Lemongrass 17 Hallertauer Blanc, Saphir, Comet
Lime 42 Citra, Northern Brewer, Motueka
Mandarin 11 Comet, Wai-iti, Waimea
Marmalade 3 Target, Pacifica, CF185
Orange 46 Centennial, Amarillo, East Kent Golding
Tangerine 25 Centennial, Mosaic, Target
Zesty 16 Bullion, Eclipse, Hallertauer Taurus

Tropical Flavors

Tropical fruit flavor notes are often sought after by brewers to create distinct, refreshing, and fruity beer profiles. These flavors are generally derived from specific hop varieties such as Citra, Mosaic, and Galaxy, which are known for their unique tropical fruit characteristics. The most common tropical fruit notes include mango, pineapple, passion fruit, guava, and papaya, which can impart a juicy and exotic taste to the beer. These flavors not only enhance the overall sensory experience but also add depth and complexity to the beer.

Descriptor # Hops Examples
Ananas 1 Styrian Kolibri
Cantaloupe 4 Hüll Melon, Elani, Lemonaughty
Coconut 7 Sabro, Cashmere, Southern Passion
Cream 5 Sabro, Strisselspalt, Talus
Guava 11 Ekuanot, Southern Passion, Whitbread Golding
Honeydew 4 Whitbread Golding, HBC 1019, Gemini
Lychee 8 Citra, Nugget, Topaz
Mango 23 El Dorado, Azacca, Styrian Wolf
Melon 31 Citra, Amarillo, Ekuanot
Papaya 9 Mosaic, Azacca, Ekuanot
Passion Fruit 33 Citra, Simcoe, Galaxy
Pineapple 38 Magnum, Galaxy, Nugget
Tropical Fruits 91 Citra, Centennial, Amarillo

Floral Flavors

Floral notes contribute a distinct bouquet of flower-like scents to a beer's aroma and flavor. These are primarily derived from essential oils present in hops, particularly compounds such as geraniol. When added during the brewing process, hops with a high concentration of these oils can impart a delicate, fresh, and often subtly sweet character to the beer. Floral notes are commonly associated with traditional European hop varieties and can be found in styles such as Pilsners, English Ales, and Belgian Tripels.

Descriptor # Hops Examples
Calendula 1 Southern Passion
Chamomile 3 Southern Dawn, Magnat, HBC 353
Elderflower 2 Marco Polo, HBC 353
Floral 126 Cascade, Citra, Centennial
Geranium 3 Nugget, Ahtanum, Hüll Melon
Jasmine 4 Aramis, Opal, Premiant
Lavender 6 East Kent Golding, Hallertauer Tradition, Hüll Melon
Lilac 2 Magnat, EXP 2/20
Magnolia 2 First Gold, Lubelska
Rose 8 Mosaic, Liberty, Brewer's Gold

Earthy & Woody Flavors

Woody flavors can evoke impressions of bark, cedar, or pine, while earthy notes often resemble the aromas of soil, mushrooms, or damp forest floors. These characteristics are derived from the certain compounds like humulene, myrcene, and farnesene, which vary depending on the hop variety and growing conditions. Beers featuring woody and earthy hops typically possess a complex, grounding character that adds depth and balance to the overall flavor experience.

Descriptor # Hops Examples
Almond 2 Whitbread Golding, Beata
Cedar 11 Challenger, Ahtanum, Glacier
Cognac 3 Fuggle, Spalter Select, Elixir
Dank 3 Altus, Veterans Blend, U3/132
Earthy 63 Saaz, Simcoe, Columbus
Evergreen 1 Newport
Grassy 45 Cascade, Magnum, Mosaic
Hay 12 Fuggle, Willamette, Hersbrucker
Hazelnut 1 Sybilla
Incense 2 Willamette, Summit
Leather 2 Agnus, Elixir
Musty 1 Strata
Oak 2 Pacific Gem, Pride of Ringwood
Pine 63 Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe
Resinous 49 Centennial, Chinook, Northern Brewer
Tobacco 11 Hersbrucker, Sorachi Ace, Sterling
Whisky 1 HBC 472
Woody 62 Citra, Centennial, Amarillo

Herbal Flavors

Herbal notes are coming from the essential oils and compounds present in certain hop varieties. These herbal characteristics can include flavors reminiscent of herbs such as mint, thyme, basil, or rosemary, among others. Hops with herbal notes are often used to balance the sweetness of malt and provide complexity to a beer's taste profile.

Descriptor # Hops Examples
Basil 1 Eclipse
Cannabis 3 Apollo, Strata, Evergreen
Clover 1 Boadicea
Dill 2 Sorachi Ace, Sládek
Eucalyptus 2 Ekuanot, Gemini
Green Tea 12 Fuggle, Challenger, Lemondrop
Herbal 110 Cascade, Amarillo, Saaz
Juniper 2 Saphir, Bergamot
Marjoram 2 Styrian Fox, Styrian Kolibri
Mate Tea 1 Whitbread Golding
Menthol 3 Northern Brewer, Herkules, Polaris
Mint 16 Fuggle, Northern Brewer, Perle
Mojito 2 Motueka, Idaho Gem
Oregano 1 Marco Polo
Sage 6 Target, Ekuanot, Millennium
Spearmint 2 Magnum, Meridian
Tarragon 3 Mount Hood, Smaragd, HBC 353
Tea 19 Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Willamette, Perle
Thyme 5 East Kent Golding, Spalter Select, Pekko

Spicy Flavors

Spicey notes are desired when crafting specific beer styles that benefit from the complexity and depth these flavors provide. Typically, these styles include Belgian ales, saisons, wheat beers, and some IPAs. Spicy hops can impart distinct nuances, which can enhance the overall beer experience. The careful use of spice notes in hops can result in a more balanced and intriguing flavor profile, appealing to both connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike.

Descriptor # Hops Examples
Allspice 1 Triple Pearl
Anise 7 Summit, Ella, Marynka
Aniseed 7 Hüll Melon, Aurora, Bobek
Balsamic 1 Newport
Black Pepper 2 Santiam, Traful
Chilies 1 African Queen
Cinnamon 5 Crystal, Lubelska, Lórien
Clove 4 Topaz, Smaragd, Triple Pearl
Curry 6 Columbus, Fuggle, Willamette
Gazpacho 1 African Queen
Ginger 5 Willamette, Nugget, Delta
Gingerbread 1 Sybilla
Licorice 7 Columbus, Whitbread Golding, Marynka
Nutmeg 3 Magnum, Crystal, Ahhhroma
Pepper 31 Magnum, Columbus, Northern Brewer
Pungent 7 Mount Hood, Newport, Columbia
Spicy 129 Cascade, Amarillo, Saaz
Tangy 6 HPA 035, Lórien, J-Lime

Creamy & Caramel Flavors

Creamy, caramel and sweet notes are distinctive flavors that certain hop varieties can impart to beer. These notes can provide a pleasant counterbalance to the bitterness typically associated with hops. These characteristics are especially desirable in styles such as Amber Ales, Brown Ales, and certain IPAs where a richer, maltier profile is desired.

Descriptor # Hops Examples
Candy 13 El Dorado, Bravo, Cashmere
Caramel 11 Willamette, Strisselspalt, Millennium
Chocolate 5 Phoenix, Marynka, Premiant
Coffee 2 Sládek, Southern Star
Creamy 4 Hüll Melon, Millennium, Whitbread Golding
Honey 12 East Kent Golding, Golding, Mount Hood
Molasses 1 Phoenix
Nougat 1 Sybilla
Sweet 37 Styrian Golding, Cluster, Sorachi Ace
Toffee 1 Millennium
Vanilla 7 Centennial, Bravo, Spalter
Yogurt 4 Hüll Melon, Palisade, Pilgrim

Vegetal Flavors

Vegetal notes can be both desired and undesired, depending on the specific style of beer and the brewer's intention. While certain beer styles, such as New England IPAs and Saisons, may benefit from subtle vegetal characteristics that can add complexity and depth to the overall flavor profile, excessive vegetal notes are generally considered undesirable. Ultimately, the presence of vegetal notes in beer hops should be balanced and aligned with the intended flavor profile of the beer.

Descriptor # Hops Examples
Alfalfa 1 Medusa
Artichoke 1 Bobek
Celeriac 1 Fuggle
Cress 1 Fuggle
Cucumber 1 Pekko
Garlic 1 Summit
Green 4 Santiam, Sládek, Lambic
Onion 1 Galena
Sulfur 1 HBC 586
Tomato 1 Styrian Kolibri
Vegetal 4 Fuggle, Smaragd, Southern Promise

General Descriptors

These are general descriptors that capture the overall character and qualities of certain hops, rather than pinpointing specific aromas or flavors. Such descriptors help paint a vivid picture of the hop's personality, enabling brewers and beer enthusiasts to appreciate and distinguish between various hop types more effectively.

Descriptor # Hops Examples
Aromatic 16 Iunga, Merkur, Hallertauer Taurus
Balanced 4 Edelweiss, Slavyanka, San Juan Ruby Red
Bright 5 Luminosa, J-Lime, Zoso
Clean 12 Hallertauer Blanc, Palisade, Newport
Crisp 4 Hallertau (NZ), HORT 9909, Zoso
Delicate 5 Strisselspalt, Hallertau (NZ), San Juan Ruby Red
Exotic 2 NZL-32, Excelsior
Fresh 17 Northdown, Kohatu, Santiam
Intense 4 Iunga, Medusa, Dana
Juicy 4 NZL-32, U3/132, Emerald Spire
Mild 17 Saaz, Fuggle, Warrior
Noble 29 Saaz, Styrian Golding, Hersbrucker
Pleasant 11 Strisselspalt, Callista, Pekko
Refreshing 3 NZL-32, J-Lime, Keyworth's Early
Rustic 1 Medusa
Smooth 5 Pahto, Monroe, ADHA-529
Soft 2 Altus, Helios
Subtle 2 San Juan Ruby Red, Klon 18
Vibrant 5 Hallertau (NZ), J-Lime, HBC 432