Celebrating Hop Flavors: Why wood is so good
Woody is certainly not the first flavor that comes to mind when discussing beer trends, however it is surprisingly prevalent in today’s popular beer styles and hop varieties.
Welcome to our new blog series, Celebrating Hop Flavors. Here at John I. Haas, our team of sensory experts takes time to explore some of the important, interesting, and often unsung aspects of the hops’ flavor spectrum that are inspiring innovative brewers around the world to create some of the most exciting beers you can imagine.
In this edition of Celebrating Hop Flavors, we are showcasing the woody aromatic flavors found in certain varieties of hops. Woody is certainly not the first flavor that comes to mind when discussing beer trends, however it is surprisingly prevalent in today’s popular beer styles and hop varieties. In fact, when enjoying hop-forward beers and IPAs with colleagues, two words I hear time and time again are pine and resin. These are classic examples of the woody aromatic flavors that come from hops. Other flavors that fall into our woody aromatic category include cedar, oak, barrel, tobacco, and earthy flavors.
From a chemistry perspective, it’s no surprise that hops are full of these flavors. The largest components of hop oil—often referred to as “The Big 4” oils: myrcene, humulene, caryophyllene, and farnesene—are full of woody flavor. Humulene smells like wood and herbs, while caryophyllene’s scent is often described as wood, clove, and spice. These components can make up nearly 75% of hop oil. Aside from “The Big 4”, there are also lesser hop oil components that contribute to its wood flavor. One important component in particular is pinene, which smells like…you guessed it…pine!
There are many hop varieties to choose when a brewer is looking to add woody nuances to beer. Some of the most notable varieties include:
• HBC 472
• Mount Hood
In each of these varieties, their piney, woody spirit is often accompanied by other bold flavors including herbal, spicy, floral, citrus, and fruit. For this reason, these varieties are used in a broad range of styles from pilsners and porters to IPAs. It’s amazing how, across so many vastly different beer styles, the woody aromatic flavors of hops always feel right at home.
To learn more about the subtle and surprising flavors of hops—and to better understand the types of flavor profiles you can achieve—reach out to your John I. Haas sales representative. Or drop us a line here at the Innovations Brewery anytime. We always love to hear from you.