Which Hops Go Well Together (For IPAs, Pale Ales, Stouts, & More!)

For many homebrewers, experimenting with different flavors is a big reason they started homebrewing in the first place! A great way to do that is not just to adjust quantities of hops, but also to combine two or more hops for a new drinking experience. 

Popular hop combinations include Citra & Mosaic and Amarillo & Simcoe, as well as many other combinations of the hundreds of varieties of hops available on the market today. Each of these hops has its own flavors and characteristics, so blending varieties creates complexity.

Keep reading to delve into why blending hops works. In addition, we’ll explore specific pairings, how their characteristics work together, and examples of commercial breweries that use the pairing.  

Why do brewers use multiple hop varieties in their beer?

Each hop strain provides a different flavor profile to beer.

By blending two or more varieties of hops in their beer, brewers can create all sorts of flavors and aromas. In some cases, rather than using just one kind of hop for a specific flavor, supplementing it with another, complementary hop can really bring out the desired flavors in a way that the first hop couldn’t do alone.

One way to wrap your head around this concept is to look to the kitchen. If you were baking a chocolate cake, for example, adding a dash of espresso serves to amplify the chocolate without turning it into a coffee-chocolate cake. In another case, squeezing a lemon over a rich cream sauce brightens it up and adds complexity. Without that acid, the dish would be one-note and dull. 

Conversely, maybe one kind of hop is too intense, sharp, or bitter for the taste a homebrewer is aiming for. Pairing it with another hop could help tone down undesirable characteristics while playing up the attributes the brewer is looking for. 

Hop pairing guide

When deciding which hops will go well together, it is important to look at each hops’ characteristics and experiment with how various combinations may complement, boost, or tone down each other. 

Take good notes! You may need to adjust quantities or add another hop variety to really perfect your blending technique. 

Below is a list of some hop combinations and why they work well together to get you started:

Citra & Mosaic

Citra is currently one of the most popular hop varieties out there, making it a great option with which to experiment.

  • Citra – Intense citrus and sweet-fruited
  • Mosaic – Earthy but with blueberry and tropical notes

Why it works so well

We already know citrus and tropical flavors go well together (hello, Piña Coladas!). The woodsy characteristics present in Mosaic can help bring the overall sweetness of the pairing down a notch.

Commercial examples of Citra and Mosaic 

Amarillo & Simcoe

Amarillo and Simcoe are each patented plants whose immense popularity has led to shortages.

  • Amarillo – Floral and citrusy
  • Simcoe – Notes of stone fruit, pine, and citrus zest

Why it works so well

While Simcoe contains enough citrus for both varieties, the floral and pine combo creates a dry yet resiny experience.

Commercial examples of Amarillo and Simcoe

Cascade & Nugget

Nugget and Cascade are both considered mainstays in the beer industry.

  • Cascade – Bitter but balanced grapefruit, soft florals
  • Nugget – Spicy, herbal, piney

Why it works so well

Nugget’s popularity as a clean bittering hop in cahoots with Cascade’s fruity and versatile nature means this isn’t a one-trick pony — the two can be used for a variety of beer styles (not just IPAs!). 

Commercial examples of Cascade and Nugget

Comet & El Dorado & Galaxy

Not all combinations need to be one-to-one. In some cases the more, the merrier! 

  • Comet – Lemongrass, zesty tangerine/grapefruit
  • El Dorado – Pineapple, mango, and watermelon notes
  • Galaxy – Peachy, tropical

Why it works so well

This trio packs a slightly wild, juicy, tropical punch.

Commercial examples of Comet, El Dorado, and Galaxy

El Dorado & Mosaic

We’ve already covered each of these hops, but together (and sometimes with the help of additional hops) they combine to make some really special brews.

  • El Dorado – Pineapple, mango, and watermelon notes
  • Mosaic – Earthy but with blueberry and tropical notes

Why it works so well

Tropical on tropical, yes, but brought down to earth by Mosaic’s woodsy qualities.

Commercial examples of El Dorado and Mosaic

Calypso & Cascade

What happens when you cross a workhorse fruity hop with a versatile, complex hop? Balance and diversity.

  • Calypso – Soft florals, black pepper, pear
  • Cascade – Bitter but balanced grapefruit, soft florals.

Why it works so well

Grapefruit and black pepper is already a classic pairing, and putting these hops together with the right malt bill is a match made in heaven.

Commercial examples of Calypso and Cascade

Galena & Chinook 

Galena and Chinook are both reliable and clean hops. For this reason, both hops (together or on their own) can be used in just about every style of beer. They are also both relatively easy to grow for the homebrewer who wants to harvest their own hops.

  • Galena – Sweet-fruited with some herbal spice
  • Chinook – Woodsy, spicy, and piney

Why it works so well

The two are well-rounded and each can be adapted to all sorts of styles. Together, they can enhance the sweet fruit of Galena and the spiciness of both. 

Commercial example of Galena and Chinook

East Kent Golding & Fuggle

East Kent Golding hops go back a long way — their lineage can be traced back at least to 1790. Fuggle hops, with their cutesy name, can be used with great success in English ales, porters, milds, and bitters.

  • East Kent Golding – Gentle spice, soft citrus
  • Fuggle – Woody and floral

Why it works so well

The softer notes produced by both hop varieties complement darker chocolate or roasted notes of porters and stouts, providing depth rather than taking center stage as they might in an IPA.

Commercial example of East Kent Golding and Fuggle

A Smorgasbord of Hops

Some breweries like to go wild, challenging themselves to cram as many hop varieties as possible into one beer.

Take the Vermont Vacation Hazy IPA from Sunriver Brewing in Oregon, for example. It has Citra, Huell Melon, El Dorado, Sultana (sometimes known as Denali), and Mandarina Bavaria hops all coming together to make a “distinctly hoppy brew…[with] lush melon character [and] notes of citrus, pineapple, and strawberry.”

There’s also the Megalodom Legendary IPA from Ninkasi Brewing in Oregon. This balanced and bold brew is packed with Amarillo, Azacca, Citra, El Dorado, Crystal, Equinox, and Nugget.

If you’re ready to start mixing hops, don’t let this list limit you! Rather, think of it as a jumping-off point — the options are endless!

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