If you blink, you’ll miss the debut of a new beer hop variety. The craft suds scene changes so fast it can be hard to keep up with, even when you follow the industry closely or are even part of it.
We’ve got you covered. New options may be coming to market in droves, but only the best make it big in beer land. As you shop for beer, scan the labels or talk up your bottle shop steward to see what hops are included. IPAs especially tend to wear the hop bill on its sleeve, a proud proclamation of what varieties made it into the brew. Think of hops like grape varieties in a good blended wine — they play a key role in building the beer, and soon you’ll begin to hone in on the ones you really like.
Here are some beer hops to pay attention to in 2022.
Out of Australia, Eclipse is a boisterous citrus bomb. The tasting notes tend to lean toward ripe orange and pine, and while it’s been around since 2004, it’s enjoying an uptick in popularity at the moment. Early on, it was only available Down Under, but it’s since gained some serious traction here, especially in the hazy IPA category. Look out for single hop releases stressing the variety, or a good NEIPA that’s dominated by its presence.
They don’t always get great names, but chances are it will eventually. In fact, many experimental hops begin with mechanical titles like this one. Don’t let that diminish its potential, as HBC 586 walks the line beautifully between tropical and herbal. Dogfish Head was one of the first bigger establishments to feature the hop, and many more have followed suit since. When incorporated properly, the hop can take you to paradise with notes of pineapple, passionfruit, and mango.
This hop is overshadowed often, deemed a bittering agent and little more. But there’s no denying its popularity and the subtle but important effect it can have on a good beer. Sharper palates will detect notes of green tea and pear. It was born here in the states, and part of its acclaim is owed to the recent lager trend. In other words, this is the kind of more subdued hop you throw in a lighter, crisper, thirst-quenching beer as opposed to a menacing Double IPA.
A New Zealand hop, Nectaron is often described as delivering a peach and grapefruit element to beer. Brewers love to dry-hop with the variety and are especially fond of the vibrant aromatics it tends to produce. The U.S. is lauded for its hop creation, but most in the know admit that New Zealanders are well ahead of what’s happening in the labs here. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em — preferably with a pint.
The Strata hop continues to surge, outlasting trend status and becoming a real mainstay in the beer circuit. There’s a noticeable stone fruit flavor to the variety, the big strawberry notes offering an ideal counterpart to the bitterness at play. Breweries left and right are going from blending with this solid hop to showcasing it on its own, and for good reason.
Sabro is so good it can even feature in non-alcoholic hop water. Why do people like it? Well, the hop brings some new flavor to the table, like tangerine and coconut. Sabro used to be called HBC 438 but earned a large enough following to take on a much cooler name. It was born in New Mexico and is beloved by brewers for having a well-rounded temperament. It was released in 2018, and while great in an IPA, it’s also extra classy in saison-style beers and pale ales.
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