Clearly hoppy beers aren’t just for hipsters and enthusiasts anymore. Modern beer drinkers love them. Craft brewers are obsessed by them and at no other point in history have there been a more diverse selection of varieties available to brew with.
Last year in North Carolina, a brewery set a world record by jamming 77 hop varieties into a single beer. This was followed by Dogfish Head creating another record by brewing the most bitter beer in the world.
Brewer’s don’t have a monopoly on crazy though. Farmers are trying to extract attention by giving their new hops outlandish names like Feux-Coeur. That’s real French for “Lights Heart” or fake phonetic French for “F—ker”. Australians created it so the later was absolutely the intended translation.
Now there’s even a dictionary to tell them apart.
Like wine grapes, each genetically distinct variety of hop bitters differently, flavors differently and brings unique aromatics to a beer. Some taste like lemon, others like strawberry. Some smell like pine, others like elderflower. There are so many varieties vying for attention, making sense of them all has been problematic.
In an effort to address the confusion, 265 different varieties — both past and present — have recently been catalogued in what could be an important step forward for brewers everywhere.
Avid brewer and hopslist.com founder Julian Healey has spent more than two years researching beer hops to create The Hops List – his first book and what he describes as “the official dictionary for beer hops”.
Touted as an essential resource for brewers, Julian says the book aims to open brewers’ eyes to new varieties and help them better utilize the ones they already use.
“It’s 2016. It’s sacrilege to brew a beer and just think ‘chuck some of this hop in to make it bitter and some of that hop to make it smell like beer’. You might have been forgiven for thinking like that in the 90’s, but not today,” says Julian.
“There are so many varieties available worldwide now. The Hops List really helps cut through all that noise and lets you think about and search for hops in terms of their specific flavors and aromas.
“There are eye-opening historical facts in there too and great quotes by brewmasters at respected craft breweries like Brooklyn Brewery, Deschutes, D.G. Yuengling & Son and others.” ”I tell you, if I’d had this book when I first started brewing, my recipes would have kicked serious butt,” says Julian.