Hoppy beers are a unique-tasting subset of beer and come in different forms. How do you identify a hoppy beer? What exactly do hops taste like?
Hoppy beers taste like hops, although the nuances of the flavor can vary based on the type of hop being used. Each hop variety has a unique flavor and bittering profile: the variety of hops used in the brewing process will determine what the beer is going to taste and smell like. Hops can impart a piney, earthy, citrus, floral, or fruity flavor.
Continue reading to find out more about what makes a beer hoppy, which hops impart which flavors, and examples of hoppy and non-hoppy beers.
What do hoppy beers taste like?
Some hops are used for bittering, some for flavoring, and some for aromatic effects. Hops that are used for bittering don’t usually get praised for having lush or pleasant flavor or aromatic qualities. These hops are ones, though, that can be paired with hops with those qualities to make a beer that is such.
Hoppy beers use a lot of bittering hops early in the boiling process to extract the maximum amount of bitterness from them. They either add the aroma or flavor hops into the boil at a later time or not at all.
Also, it’s worth noting that, whatever bittering hop you’re using, you’re going to use the most of that type of hop. This is why beers like IPAs are mostly hoppy.
It would be unjust to classify the taste of all hops as something as simple as just “bitter” or “sweet.” With so many different varieties and combinations used in brewing, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact flavors and aromas in beer. Some popular classifications of hops include citrusy, earthy, herbal, resiny, floral, and many more.
Here is a table with ten of the most popular types of hops, including what they’re used for and what scents and flavors they provide:
|Citra||Dual-use||Citrus, tropical, bitter|
|Mosaic||Dual-use||Citrus, fruity, pine|
|Centennial||Dual-use||Earthy, floral, citrus|
|El Dorado||Aroma and flavor||Tropical flavor, candy-like aroma|
|Chinook||Dual-use||Pine, earthy, resiny, floral|
It’s no surprise that the most popular hops are mostly dual-purpose. They each give unique characteristics to beers but are almost always going to impart some degree of hoppiness. Many combinations of hops can be used to create an infinitely vast variety of flavor and aroma profiles. These combinations can make for very complex beers.
Why do some people not like hoppy beers?
Some people don’t like hoppy beers, and it’s probably not their fault.
The more sensitive your taste buds are, the less likely you are to enjoy a beer – a hoppy one at that. Because hoppy beers are so bitter and can be overwhelming to someone with this type of genetic variation.
If you don’t like hoppy beers, there’s a chance that your taste buds are sensitive.
Of course, there’s always the chance that the flavor simply doesn’t appeal to you which is fine too, and there’s a huge variety of beers that aren’t hops-heavy.
What is considered a hoppy beer?
A hoppy beer is best classified by looking at the international bitterness unit (IBU) scale. A beer’s IBU can range anywhere from zero to infinity, really.
It isn’t until you reach about 25 IBU that you will start tasting the hops and bitterness. Generally, when a beer uses more hops, particularly in the early stage of the boiling process, it will retain a higher IBU.
Anything lower than this and it will be difficult for you to pick up on it. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any hops in the beer (there are hops in almost all beers, especially commercial ones). It just means that there weren’t a lot of hops used in the recipe – not enough for you to taste in the final product, anyway.
Examples of the least hoppy beers
The least hoppy beer styles include lagers, pilsners, wheat or white beers, and sours. There are plenty of beers of these styles that are commercially brewed.
Some of the most popular and notable low-IBU beers are Sapporo Premium Beer (lager), Pivo Pils (pilsner), Blue Moon (white beer), and Sour Monkey (sour).
These beers will appeal to any beer drinker that doesn’t like a hoppy or bitter beer.
Examples of the most hoppy beers
The most hoppy beers are going to be your stouts, ales, pale ales, IPAs, hazy IPAs, and double IPAs.
Some of the most well-known and popular high-IBU beers are Guinness (stout), Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Goose Island IPA, Other Half’s Green City (Double IPA), and Dogfish Head’s Hazy-O (hazy IPA).
These are only a few well-known commercial beers. Try out a local brewery for something more craft-like.
Which popular beers are hoppy?
To understand popular beers, we must delve into the American history of beer. Yuengling is the oldest brewery and beer in the United States. The current Yuengling Lager is one of the most popular beers in the Northeastern U.S.
Most popular beers are not hoppy. The most popular traditional beers tend toward a milder, more universally appealing flavor.
It’s important to note that most “popular beers” are American domestic beers, with the exception of Corona, Pacifico, Modelo, Stella Artois, Heineken, etc.
Beers like Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, Coors Light, and Miller Lite were all born in the United States and are among the best-selling beers in the country. None of these beers, though, are “hoppy.”
Is Budweiser a hoppy beer?
Budweiser is not a hoppy beer.
Budweiser has an IBU of 12, making it a non-hoppy beer. Introduced in 1876, it remains an American-style lager brewed with barley malt and Hallertau, Saaz, and Tettnanger hops.
Budweiser uses hops as a preservative, but not for the taste and smell.
Is Heineken a hoppy beer?
Heineken is a Dutch pale lager that is not hoppy.
Heineken is not a hoppy beer, sitting at an IBU of 19. It’s stronger than most American domestics but still under that IBU threshold of 25, making it a comparatively mellow beer. It’s brewed with malted barley, a unique “A-yeast” strain, and Northern brewer and Hallertau hersbrucker hops.
Heineken is a unique-tasting lager that still uses hops for flavor and preservation, but it is not hoppy.
Is Michelob Ultra a hoppy beer?
Michelob Ultra is a light lager and is not a hoppy beer.
Brewed with barley malt, grains, pure-cultured yeast, and all-imported hops, this beer is nowhere close to hoppy with an IBU of 10. It contains Herkules hops that act as a preservative.
Michelob Ultra is another American domestic beer that does not have a strong hop presence.
Is Coors Light a hoppy beer?
Another American domestic beer, Coors Light, is not hoppy.
This beer sits at 10 IBU and is brewed with barley malt, hop extract, lager yeast, and corn syrup. The hops act as a preservative in this beer.
Fun fact: the yeast strain in Coors Light gives the initial taste a banana-like flavor. The main flavor palette is still malty, like other light beers.
Is Yuengling a hoppy beer?
America’s oldest beer is another one that is not hoppy.
This classic lager has an IBU of 16 and is brewed with roasted caramel malt, yeast, and a mixture of cascade and cluster hops. Although it uses hops, it is not a hoppy beer and is easy to drink.
This famous beer is appealing to anyone who doesn’t like hoppy beers.
Is Blue Moon a hoppy beer?
Blue Moon is a smooth and unfiltered Belgian white beer.
Blue Moon is not a hoppy beer. It has an IBU of 9 and is brewed with malted barley, white wheat, coriander, and orange peel. It’s an unfiltered beer with a clouded body and sweet taste.
This Belgian classic is enjoyed year-round and is best served with an orange slice.
Is Guinness a hoppy beer?
Guinness is an Irish dry stout that is both bitter and sweet.
Guinness Draught is a cross between a hoppy and bitter beer. It has a 45 IBU and is brewed with roast malt, brewer’s yeast, and select hops. The hops are boiled for 90 minutes in the wort, extracting maximum bitterness.