Keeping pace with the beer hop scene can be as challenging as predicting the next culinary trend or Kanye West outburst.
There are scores of varieties, from the ever-popular Cascade to the lesser-known Lotus. Brewers work with the bitterness-imparting cones like a cook works with spices, dabbling here and there with different types, ratios, and, of course, results. These lovely nuggets do much more than just adjust bitterness units, they offer brightness and tons of unique flavors and fragrances.
With labs all over the country constantly researching and developing new beer hop types, we’d thought it would be a good idea to break down a few emerging styles.
The agricultural trend-setters at Oregon State University developed this hop, in tandem with Portland industry merchant Indie Hops. It’s gaining traction in the Willamette Valley and beyond, and for good reason, as it is layered and very aromatic. Those in the know have described its effects on beer as “cannabis meets passion fruit.”
Beer to try: The Strata IPA from Worthy Brewing out of Bend, Oregon. It shows nice tropical notes, alongside a grassy, subtly dank hit.
Pahto has been revered for its many uses as a hop that’s both bitter and clean. Developed in Yakima, this variety is a little earthy, a little floral, and nicely balanced. The name refers to the title indigenous people gave to nearby Mt. Adams.
Beer to try: Varietal Beer Company of Sunnyside, Washington touts the hop in its nicely-assembled Wapahto IPA.
The delightfully-named Cashmere hop is more on the delicate side, with a certain smoothness and light hit of citrus. It’s known to produce citrusy flavors, along with notes of melon and even coconut. Washington State University created this variety by crossing Cascade hops with Northern Brewer hops.
Beer to try: Colorado’s Avery Brewing makes a fine whole-hopped IPA with an extra helping of Cashmere hops. While a limited release, expect to see more from this hop in the beers of of producers across the land.
Named after a Finnish agricultural god, Pekko delivers a nice balance of tropical fruit notes and herbaceous qualities. It also packs plenty of alpha acid content, meaning a bigger whack of bitterness by volume.
Beer to try: Short’s Brewing out of Michigan makes single-malt pale ale with a hop bill built solely around Pekko. It’s light and extremely approachable.
As the name suggests, Lemondrop hops are bright and zesty. They’re derived from popular Cascade hops and known to even impart green tea and spearmint notes. In addition to the obvious IPA category, keep your eyes peeled for this hop in newer takes on hefeweizens and blonde ales.
Beer to try: Even the bigger guns are starting to work with this hop, including Seattle’s Pyramid. Their Lemondrop Citrus Pale Ale uses a dry version of the hop to create a refreshing, zippy beer perfect for the patio.
An offshoot of the Summit hop, Jarrylo shows ester-y qualities like banana and pear. With a bit of spiciness as well, it’s gaining a following among producers of Belgian-style beers. It was devised in the hop mecca otherwise known as Yakima Valley.
Beer to try: The Jarrylo by Ninkasi of Eugene is as easy-drinking as they come, and a fine example of what the hop can bring to the table.
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