Are you a beer freak like us? Then you might be obsessed with trying to identify the hop varietal in your brew. We’ve assembled a six pack of hop-forward beers that showcase ONE hop varietal more than others, so you can drink your way to expert hophead.
But first, a primer. Like grapes, hops come in dramatically different varietals. You’ve got your Old School (aka Old World, or “Noble” hops) originating in Germany, England and the Czech Republic. These share a soft bitterness and exhibit delicate earthy, spicy, floral and grassy qualities. Then there’s the New School, hailing from North America, Australia and New Zealand, they’re loaded with zingy bitterness and bold aromatics like citrus, pine and tropical fruit.
To help you NAME THAT HOP, we’ve put together a six-pack of brews that showcase the terroir of popular Old and New School rhizomes.
- Taste it in: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
- The original gangster of APA’s this bottle-conditioned brew’s employs loads of whole cone, New School, Cascade hops as the finishing varietal.
- Look for: Bold floral + backing citrus
- Taste it in: Hop City Barking Squirrel
- This easy-drinking, toasty Amber lager is made in Brampton by Moosehead’s craft beer spin-off is made with old-school German Hallertau and Czech Saaz hops.
- Look for: Spicy herb and grassy notes in the finish
- Taste it in: Rainhard Armed & Citra
- The tropical fruit notes of the Citra make it the Ryan Gosling of the New School, “Big C hop” set — everyone wants to break off a piece. No brewer in Toronto showcases its beauty better than Jordan Rainhard in this stunner of a Pale Ale, brewed with four hop additions and then dry hopped.
- Look for: melon, grapefruit and soft pine.
- Taste it in: Great Lakes Pompous Ass
- The Old School British hops in this British Pale Ale — Fuggle and East Kent Goldings — get a boost from the American Pale Ale yeast in the brew.
- Look for: Mint, grass or green tea
- Taste it in: Sawdust City Golden Beach Pale Ale
- This beer is money — no seriously. Brewmaster Sam Corbeil fell hard for this New School Australian varietal — right before every other brewery did too, driving up the price.
- Look for: tropical-fruit, pineapple and grapefruit notes
- Taste it in: Mill Street West Coast IPA
- A nice bonus (besides a kazillion dollars) of being bought by AB-In Bev? You get access to a dictionary-sized list of kick ass hops managed by “Willy the Hop King” — In Bev’s hop procurement man based in Belgium (nice work if you can get it). Getting his hands on rare, New School Hallertau Blanc hops inspired Mill Street’s Joel Manning to make this hazy IPA that smells like you opened a can of Del Monte fruit salad.
- Look for: The grapes in the fruit salad.