Hop to it! How to tell your Tomahawk from your Simcoe…

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June 30, 2012 by probuswines

Hops…there’s no doubt that these little guys are pretty vital when it comes to great beer; if your senses are picking up earthy/tropical/citrus/spicy/herby/fruity/minty/piney flavours & aromas or a tasty bitterness from your pint, then there’s a good chance it’s down to the varieties of hops which the brewer has put to work in his beer.

OK, so hop flavour & aroma is easy to detect (you’d have to be pretty stuffed-up not to be able to smell the assault of pine resin & citrus fruit from some big American IPAs such as Sierra Nevada Torpedo, for example) but when it comes to identifying exactly what kind of hop is behind these big bold flavours & aromas things become a little bit more tricky.

Why? Because, frankly, there are bloody loads of hop varieties out there. We couldn’t even hazard a guess at how many as new strains are being trialed and developed by beer-loving scientists all the time!

So, what we’ve done is put together a (relatively!) brief list of some of the most popular & commonly used types of hop that you’re likely to come across in a beer near you; as well as the name & geographical origin of each of these hops, we’ve added in some tasting notes and attributes associated with them…

Amarillo (USA) – very citrusy, floral, semi-sweet; orange is the main player

Cascade (USA) – plenty of floral notes, heavy on the citrus fruit – often grapefruit

Centennial (USA) – over-the-top citrus flavour/aroma with soft floral notes

Challenger (UK) – spicy, earthy aroma with distinct toffee taste – often notes of marmalade

Chinook (USA) – pine, herbs, smokiness, earthiness, slight citrus notes

Citra (USA) – heavy tropical aromas (mango, papaya, pineapple) mixed with light citrus fruit

Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus [CTZ] (USA) – woody, pine resin, mild herb/spice, citrus notes too; primarily a bittering hop due to its massively high alpha content

Fuggles (UK) – earthy, fruity, vegetal, herbaceous – a traditional English hop

Galaxy (Australia) – a heady combination of citrus & passion fruit

Goldings (UK) – smooth & sweet fruit character, another traditionally English flavour profile

Hallertauer (Germany) – floral, earthy, spiced fruitiness; in the “Noble” hop category

Hersbrucker (Germany) – grass, hay, slight menthol; another “Noble” hop

Nelson Sauvin (NZ) – juicy tropical fruit notes, especially passion fruit & mango

Nugget (various) – herbal & floral character

Saaz (Czech Republic) – clean, spicy, near-cinnamon bouquet; a “Noble” hop traditionally used in pilsners

Simcoe (USA) – pine, grapefruit, citrus, wood

Sorachi Ace (Japan) – lemon, lemongrass, mouth-coating buttery flavour

Styrian Goldings (Slovenia) – resinous & spicy; similar to Fuggles but slightly sweeter

With this helpful list you can now go out and drink all the beer you want in the name of scientific research (well, sort of) and do your best to give your palates a real work out!

That’s our kind of research!!

We’ll be updating this post when our next delivery arrives at the shop (it’s going to include plenty of really hoppy American IPAs and pale ales…yes, we’re excited!) with a guide to what hops you’ll find in the beers in our fridges.

But, for now, in the words of a great man (probably), remember that hoppiness is happiness!  

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