The Haas Blog

(Re)learning the “Language of Hops”

Jul 24, 2017 Tim Kostelecky

Hops are said to be the soul of beer. But they can be quite difficult to describe, especially when it comes to flavor expression. In the past, this wasn’t quite the challenge it is today, back when hops were mostly a subtle aspect of beer. In the last 10 years though, hop usage has changed tremendously.

Today, dry hopping and aggressive, hop-forward beers have become popular, especially with craft beers. Many of the new “flavor hop” varieties such as Citra®, Mosaic®, Galaxy™, Mandarina Bavaria, and Monroe™, challenge drinkers and brewers alike to go beyond the standard terms when characterizing a hop. Citrus, floral, hoppy, fruity, herbal—these seem to offer not quite enough information to help us fully assess the aroma and flavor of these intense hop varieties. We needed to expand the language to communicate the rich tapestry of taste that’s now available to innovative brewers.

That’s why we’re proud to share with you a new resource developed by the innovations group at Barth-Haas, “The Language of Hops: How to Assess Hop Flavor in Hops and Beer,” a publication through the Master Brewers of America (MBAA), available for free download here.

With the help of professional flavorists and champion beer sommeliers, we at Barth-Haas created a new tasting scheme for hops and hoppy beers. The goal is to begin defining intensities for 12 aroma categories, as well as identifying specific aroma attributes. This results in a defined aroma profile for different hop varieties or beers, and a means to get people on the same page when comparing hops in a sensory context—for everything from the simple definitions of aroma and flavor to a more descriptive aroma categorization needed with today’s more bold and expressive varieties.

This is an exciting time to be a brewer and a hop lover. We hope you enjoy learning “The Language of Hops” along with us. Be sure to download your free copy today—and, by all means, please let us know what you think.

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