Beer hops can be classified into several categories: fruity, citrusy, floral, herbal, earthy, spicy, and piney. Hops can fall into one or more categories, but there are a few that deserve groups of their own.
Nelson Sauvin and Hallertau Blanc
New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin and Germany’s Hallertau Blanc are two hops that will make you do a double-take on the beer you’re drinking. Both hops produce brews that are more wine-like than beer, and their intense aromas can be a bit overwhelming to beer drinkers. However, wine lovers will love the sweet grape flavors together with the mix of floral and fruity aromas. Nelson Sauvin contains undertones of mangoes and lychee underneath its grape flavors and can be mildly peppery. Hallertau Blanc has a bit of passionfruit, pineapple, and lemongrass. It also has notes of elderflower and cassis. Nelson Sauvin is a little bit sweeter, and Hallertau Blanc is a little more citrusy. Both are usually used for flavoring but can also be effective as bittering hops. Hallertau Blanc is primarily used in brewing American-style IPAs while Nelson Sauvin is suitable for almost any IPA, pale ales, and lagers.
Northern Brewer, Perle, and Polaris
Northern Brewer originated from England but is now grown in both the US and Germany, while Perle and Polaris are both German hops. Brews from all three hops have very distinct minty flavors. Northern Brewer evokes a serene forest with tones of evergreen and wood underneath the minty flavors. It can be used as an aroma as well as a bittering hop, and it is quite suitable for most ales and porters. Perle retains a bit of the noble characteristics, infusing a bit of spice, wood, and earthy elements into the otherwise minty brew. Traces of fruit and light floral tones also add a little bit of flavor. Perle is a dual-purpose hop that works well with pale ales, lagers, and pilsners. Polaris evokes a tundra, with a bit of pineapple underneath its icy menthol flavors. It has the most distinct mint tones, surpassing Perle and Northern Brewer, which is often compared to Fox’s Glacier Mint candies. Polaris works great on pale ales, ales, and stouts.
When it comes to unique flavors, no hop comes close to Taurus. This quirky bittering hop evokes tones of chocolate, banana, and curry while maintaining strong earthy tones. Banana and chocolate might not be flavors you would expect to find in beer. However, the oddity makes it a brew you should try at least once. Taurus also has the highest levels of Xanthohumol, an antioxidant that is several times more potent than those in red wine and has proven to lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Taurus works well with German-style ales and for making healthier batches of brews.
If you’re tired of citrusy, fruity, and spicy brews, get a dose of these eccentric hops and start brewing beer that would have your patrons raising eyebrows and doubting their senses. Use them on their own or combine them to make exciting and flavorful brews.