Beer Hawk Discoveries: What Does Hoppy Mean?

There's a lot of jargon and buzzwords floating around the beery world. You've probably heard them but maybe you don't know exactly what it means. Beer Hawk is here to help make sense of what's on the label and tell you just what, exactly, "hoppy" means.

What are hops?

It's pretty obvious that if someone says a beer is hoppy that they're referencing, well, hops. Hops are the flower of the hop plant humulus lupulus. These delightful buds are responsible for some preservative qualities in beer as well as imparting bitterness. But when someone says that a beer tastes "hoppy" they're likely referencing the third, and arguably the most exciting, role that hops play: flavour, aroma and more flavour.

We won't get in to the specifics of each hop varietal and what flavours they bring to a beer--we'd suggest a brewing diploma for that--but

Beer Hawk Discoveries: What Does Hoppy Mean?

There's a lot of jargon and buzzwords floating around the beery world. You've probably heard them but maybe you don't know exactly what it means. Beer Hawk is here to help make sense of what's on the label and tell you just what, exactly, "hoppy" means.

What are hops?

It's pretty obvious that if someone says a beer is hoppy that they're referencing, well, hops. Hops are the flower of the hop plant humulus lupulus. These delightful buds are responsible for some preservative qualities in beer as well as imparting bitterness. But when someone says that a beer tastes "hoppy" they're likely referencing the third, and arguably the most exciting, role that hops play: flavour, aroma and more flavour.

We won't get in to the specifics of each hop varietal and what flavours they bring to a beer--we'd suggest a brewing diploma for that--but suffice it to say: hops bring the fun to the party. It depends on the exact hop variety as to what flavours--and how much of it--will show up on the beer. Briefly, American hops are widely favoured for the grapefruit, citrus and pine-tree-like character while their cousins from New Zealand bring about a bold exotic and tropical fruit quality (and a bit of funk). British hops are famed for the subtle earthy, herbal and fruity notes and the Germans or the Czechs love the spicy or floral facets of their historic hops.

What's a hoppy beer?

Clearly, there's a lot that the simple hop flower brings to the glass. Yet, if we're calling a beer "hoppy" we generally mean that the hop's individual qualities are pretty obvious. We can taste the grapefruit, we can smell the papaya, we note the spice swirling about. The bitterness from the hops do play a part as well, in terms of describing hoppiness, but we wouldn't usually describe a beer that tastes bitter--without much expression from the hops--as being hoppy. Nope, that'd just be bitter. We like to think of a hoppy beer as being full of hop character with its bitterness mixed in. Make sense?

 Hoppiness is a mix of hop flavour, aroma and bitterness.

Hoppy beers you'll love

If you're still trying to figure it out nothing will help more than tasting it for yourself. Here are our favourite hoppy beers:

Founders All Day IPA

 

Big notes of citrus and pine really establish this Founder's Brewing All-Day IPA's hoppiness. A simple malt profile doesn't distract and its approachable 42 IBUs mean that it's balanced for peak aromatics and flavour.

 

 

 

Victory Prima Pils

 

 

It's not all IPAs or Pale Ales that can be hoppy. Victory's Prima Pils has loads of earthy and herbal hop character from German and Czech hops. A subtle maltiness and clean finish makes for a hop-forward German Pilsener.

 

 

 

Brewdog Punk IPA

 

 

We can't talk about hoppy beer without talking about some of the hoppiest beer to ever come out of the UK: Brewdog's Punk IPA. It blasts your tongue with tropical fruits, lychee and pineapple.

 

 

 

8 Wired Tall Poppy

 

A really fruity hoppiness and firm bitterness rise above sweet, balancing malts and a clean finish. We love how the Tall Poppy from New Zealand's 8 Wired has all the hop character of an IPA with the easy-drinking balance of an amber ale.

 

 

 

Duvel Tripel Hop

 

With a new vintage and hop profile each year, the Duvel Tripel Hop also does an extra dry-hopping stage to capture even more flavour of the additional hop. This year includes the famed Citra hop which brings about loads of orange and citrus hop character.

 

 

All this talk of hops has us feeling a bit parched so we're off to try one of these beauties! We hope this helps you on your beery quest for delicious beer. Drop us a comment below if you've got your own hoppy suggestions or if anything isn't quite clear. Until next time--cheers!