Thoughts on hops

John ShearlockFeb 14, '24
What’s the most important thing about the beer you drink? Is it the malt, the water or the hops? I’m guessing a fair few of you will be leaning towards the word hops because, at the end of the day, the world of beer is currently pretty damn hop obsessed. And perhaps rightly so.

What’s nice about this current fascination, is that we are seeing more and more transparency surrounding the hops used in many of the beers we love. They pop up incorporated in beer names and are fully featured in tasting notes. We’re becoming well versed in what different hops mean for the beers we drink and this is actually pretty exciting stuff.

This may not be a totally new thing, but it is certainly becoming way more commonplace and really reminds me of the wine renaissance that began taking shape about twenty or so years ago. With the explosion of wine from regions other than the traditional European countries - grape disclosure on labels became a thing, and there was a shift away from the murky opacity of traditional old-school labelling. It was as if the penny dropped for producers and they realised what the most important sales point of the wines they were producing actually was. The grapes - of course!

Similar trends can be with the comparison of old and new world beer producing countries. The latter were undoubtedly quicker to catch on to the singular importance of the hop - but the old world is certainly catching up.

This and our modern obsession with hops is exemplified perfectly with the story of Duvel. This beer has a history dating back to the early 1920s and was made with just two hops for almost 100 years, but in 2007 a new expression was released with the American Amarillo hop called Duvel Tripel Hop. It was hugely successful, even attracting its own Facebook group - We want Duvel Tripel Hop, and between 2010 and 2016, six further editions were released - each sporting a new hop. The one featuring Citra was then voted the most popular by fans of Duvel and Duvel Tripel Hop Citra became a permanent fixture in the range.

Despite our current fascination and love for hops - I’m still not entirely convinced that we’re total hop pros… yet. Yeah, sure we can all rattle off a decent array of hop names, but can we actually spot these hops in our beers - it’s pretty hard after all?

But together we can fix this. It will mean self education and the beautiful thing about study in this context is it means drinking beer - yay!

So here’s my suggestion to you - let’s start with Citra (the darling of the single hop world) and do as much homework as we can. It’s gonna be tough - but I’m in if you are?

Great - thought you would be ;)