Here’s all you need to know to how to host a hoppy tasting for your next shindig. Impress your guests with your hop knowledge and serve these six beers with their respective hops. I suggest picking up some whole hops from Toronto Brewing. Before you taste each beer, explore the aroma of the hops by rubbing a few cones vigorously in your hands and then taking some deep sniffs.

If DIY isn’t your thing, I would be happy to help out. Just check out My Services page.

Some Hoppy Facts:

-Hops are used as a preservative in beer: hop acids inhibit bacterial growth

-Flavour and aromas come from hops’ essential oils & they’re used for bitterness to balance the malt sweetness

-In brewing, we only use female hops because they contain lupulin – the sticky resins where hop oils live

-Yakima Valley Washington State has perfect conditions and is the biggest hop-producing region in North America, followed by Oregon, then Idaho.

DIY Hops Rub & Beer Tasting: Can you pick out the hops in your beer? 

#1 Steam Whistle Pilsner, Steam Whistle Brewing, Toronto  

Saaz hops

Saaz are a Noble hop, which generally refer to hops that have been growing in Old World beer-making countries, like Czech Republic, England and Germany for centuries. Depending on which beer authority you speak to, you’ll get a different group of hops that belong in these categories, but they don’t include crossbreeds or New World varietals. In general, they have lower alpha acids, more delicate, soft aromas.

Pilsner Urquell, the iconic/original pilsner, is made up of Saaz  hops, Bohemian malt and soft water. Whereas Steam Whistle is made with Canadian 2-row malted barley, three types of hops – Perle for bittering, Spalter mid-boil and Saaz at the end for aroma, plus relatively hard spring water from Caledon, Ontario. You could try both of these beers side by side to see how the hops exhibit themselves differently.

#2 Anchor Steam Beer, Anchor Brewing Company, San Francisco

Northern Brewer Hops

Anchor Steam Beer

Anchor Steam is the only remaining brewery from San Francisco’s historical gold rush era. It changed owners, burnt down and was barely surviving in 1965, when Fritz Maytag, heir to the Maytag washing machine empire and recent Stanford graduate, took a liking to its Steam Beer. When Maytag heard the brewery was going to close he saved it, buying a majority stake.

During the dark days of beer, when small outfits struggled against the pressure of big guys, Maytag travelled the world to learn about brewing and studied the Steam Beer – re-jigging the recipe to make it more authentic to the pre-prohibition style.

Steam Beer is a California invention. Due to the hot climate and lack of refrigeration in the late 1800s, but brewers wanted a refreshing, easy drinking, lager-like beer. So they cooled the beer quickly in cool ships, and used a lager yeast that could survive at higher temperatures than usual.

Maytag’s version is the iconic beer of this style and it’s made with Northern Brewer hops: which were bred in 1934 from an English and American hop, inheriting pleasant British aromas of rich, woodsy flavour, rough around the edges, mint-like evergreen flavour, and higher bittering qualities from its US counterpart.

#3 Rhyme & Reason Pale Ale, Collective Arts Brewing, Toronto

American Hops: Citra, Centennial, Chinook & Simcoe

Rhyme & Reason

Rhyme & Reason uses four types of American hops and this beer really lets you get a good idea of the bright citrus, pine and floral qualities of the Yakima Valley hop. I like to get two very different varietals and ask guests to pick out each one blind before we try them with the beer, for example Simcoe is known for pine-like qualities, and citra for bright tropical fruit and citrus.

Here’s a little about each:

Citra was trademarked in 2009, and is made up of 50% Hallertauer Mittelfrueh; 25% US Tettnanger, 19% Brewer’s Gold, 3% EK Golding. Uniquely exotic, citrusy aroma and high total oil content, almost twice as high as Cascade, higher than almost any other hop.

Simcoe: 2000 Yakima, dual purpose. Aromas of pine, wood, grapefruit + slightly dank onion and garlic. Dry hop especially can give off Orange Crush elements in generous amounts.

Centennial: known as the super cascade (first hop bred by American hop breeding program citrus-floral 70s) More floral, less citrusy, stronger released 1990.

Chinook: a bittering variety with aroma characteristics released in May 1985. A high alpha acid hop with a wonderful herbal, almost smoky character when used as an aromatic during the last few minutes of the boil when dry hoping.

R&R Pale Ale Hops Bill:
HOPS: Bittering: German Magnum
FLAVOUR: Citra & Centennial
AROMA: Citra, Centennial, Chinook, Simcoe
DRY HOP: Citra, Centennial, Chinook & Simcoe

#4 Wakatu New Zealand Pale Ale, Junction Craft Brewing, Toronto

Wakatu hops

Wakatu Hops are dual-purpose hops used for flavouring and bittering beer, grown in Nelson, New Zealand. They received their name from the incorrect spelling of Whakatu, the Maori name for Nelson. Being bred from the Hallertau hop, they are often interchangeable in beer with Hallertauer. Look for lemon lime characteristics.

#5 St. Ambroise IPA, McAuslan Brewery, Montreal  

East Kent Goldings

St Ambroise IPA

East Kent Goldings are Cascade hops crossed with English Fuggles and a wild American hop. Invented in the ’70s it became the signature hop in a new style of distinctly American beer.

#6 Amsterdam Boneshaker IPA, Amsterdam Brewery, Toronto

Amarillo hops

Amarillo hops were trademarked in Washington State in 2000. Known for their citrus-like tangerine and apricot aromas with floral backnotes.  Boneshaker is an unfiltered IPA made by continuously hopping Amarillo throughout the boil, (hops are added every five minutes during a 90-minute boil) balanced by a malt backbone of seven different types of malted barley.