My favorite hops for home brewing and how I use them

This isn’t a complete or exhaustive list, but it does cover a good portion of what I use at home and often seek out at the local bottle shop.

My favorites:

Galaxy – Hands down the single best hop I’ve come across. Its high alpha acid makes it great for bittering. Added later in the boil, it lends unexpectedly soft fruity flavors. The big bonus of this hop, however, is its aroma. Added at the end of the boil or in dry hop, this is very unique and gives strong notes of citrus and passionfruit. The early batches of Slumbrew’s Flagraiser made great use of this hop late in the boil and in dry hop. So much so that I cloned it and still think it’s the best beer that I’ve made.

Simcoe – Another dual purpose hop with a variety of character. Great for bittering, the flavors and aromas of this strain include mild fruitiness dominated by fresh green pine. This is great for single hop brewing. Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe is a delicious example.

Columbus – This is a mainstay in a lot of my brews. It packs a big bitter punch, but also has a surprisingly pleasant spicy earthy flavor and herbal aroma. Nugget is very similar, although a bit more intense on all fronts. I’ll sometimes use them interchangeably.

More hops I like:

Citra – A relatively new strain, this one’s fairly bionic in bittering, flavors and aromas. Very very fruity with notes of mango, papaya, grapefruit and peach among others. This features big in Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA

Cascade – The hop most responsible for the growth of craft beer, this is a gem. Although relatively low in alpha acids, it can be used in any part of the hop schedule. The flavors and aromas are big spicy citrus, grapefruit and just a touch flowery. This hop is a significant part of what makes Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale and The Lost Abbey’s Mongo taste and smell so amazing.

Centennial – One of the kings of aroma hops, it lends powerful notes of very flowery citrus and can also be used for bittering. This hop is featured in a number of brews by Founders Brewing Company.

Apollo – Think resiny orange. A great bittering hop with citrus flavors and aromas that tend towards orange and not the typical grapefruit or lemon. This is a fantastic single hop for White IPAs and various wheat beer styles.

Northern Brewer – Primarily used for bittering and flavor, this lends strong notes of woody evergreen and pine with a touch of mint. I use this for bittering in all my non-citrus flavored ales.

Willamette – This is a fantastic finishing hop. Its aromas include spicy, peppery, earthy, fruity and flowery. An all-star for dry hopping, this will showcase and compliment earlier hop additions, but can also be used to add moderate flavors similar to above.

Hops I always try to substitute or avoid altogether:

Chinook – This is a hop I always try to find an alternative for. Although many commercial brewers have used this to great success, I find in my own beer it’s far too harsh. Instead I prefer a very similar strain from New Zealand called Sticklebracht. Similar flavors and aromas without so much of the chalky brutality.

Warrior – Sadly it seems, I dislike Warrior hops pretty much across all gamuts. I can sometimes tolerate its use as a bittering hop if different strains are added to the flavor and aroma additions. This has made it very hard to like anything by Dogfish Head Brewing. If you consider yourself a hophead and have had a similar experience, this may be why. Try Pacific Jade instead in any recipe calling for Warrior.

(Update) Falconer’s Flight/Sorachi Ace – I’m adding these two hop strains as dislikes. Falconer’s Flight is a proprietary blend of several enjoyable NW hops that also contains both Sorachi Ace and Chinook(see above). Sorachi Ace by itself is an unpleasant pithy lemonish hop originating in Japan. Mosaic is a much more enjoyable blended hop. If lemon is your goal try Motueka, but be sure to use in moderation.

(Update) Summit – A new favorite and instant classic. Not sure how I missed this until now, but wow does this add some potent pink grapefruit flavors when added at 15 mins left to the boil. I’m now planning a Summit/Summit/Cascade IPA for early fall once the ambient temp drops back into American Ale yeast range.

(Update) Styrian Savinjski – Formerly known as Styrian Goldings. This is primarily a late addition hop originating in Slovenia. It  adds a ton of earthy herbal aroma with a touch of spice. I’m thinking this would work really nicely with a Columbus based DIPA, or really any beer using Columbus or Nugget for bittering.


About mrhopsbeertalk
Avid homebrewer and craft beer taster. I love all the hops I can get. #hops #ipa #iipa #ipl #porter #dipa #specialtyale #saison #craftbeer western mass ·

One Response to My favorite hops for home brewing and how I use them

  1. Pingback: Starting 2014 with 3 unique homebrewed IPAs #drinkitfresh |

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