Homebrewing Tips

The Best Hops to Boost Your Beer’s Aroma & Bitterness

February 13, 2017

Sure, you can identify that you like the hop flavor in your beer, but do you know which hop is doing the work? Craft breweries often list which hops were used on the beer’s packaging, but sometimes they leave it a mystery. Something smells like mangoes and papayas in there, and you know this isn’t a fruit beer. Maybe that piney taste really turns you off, and you want to know which hop is responsible.

The 31 hop varieties I mention here are surely not all of the hops in existence, but they will give you a strong start. I’ve sorted the three lists according to the alpha acid percentages of each hop. Alpha acids are an indication of bitterness – which is why the aroma hops tend to be lower in alpha acids, while bittering hops are naturally much higher.

Pinpoint your personal favorites, and then build a beer of your own! Or add some to a recipe you know and love to bring it new character.


Aroma Hops

U.S. Saaz

Alpha Acids: 3-4.5%
Notes: mild, spicy, earthy
Common Styles: Pilsner, Lager, Wheat, and Belgian-style Ales
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 3-5.6%
Notes: earthy, grassy, floral
Common Styles: English-style beers – Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Porter, Stout
Origin: UK


Alpha Acids: 3-6%
Notes: woody, green, spicy, floral
Common Styles: German or US-style Ales, Lagers, Pilsners, and ESBs
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 3-6%
Notes: spicy, herbal, peppery, floral
Common Styles: German-Style Lagers & Pilsners, and American Ales
Origin: Germany


Alpha Acids: 3.5-6.5%
Notes: earthy, herbal, slightly fruity and spicy
Common Styles: Bavarian-style Lagers
Origin: Germany


Alpha Acids: 4-5.5%
Notes: floral, citrus, spicy, resinous (much like Hallertau)
Common Styles: German or US Ales and Lagers
Origin: US

Mt. Hood

Alpha Acids: 4-6.5%
Notes: spicy, herbal
Common Styles: IPAs, Pale Ales, Bocks, and Brown Ales
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 4-7.5%
Notes: citrus, fruity, cedar
Common Styles: English & American Style Ales, and Wheat Beer
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 4.5-6.5%
Notes: floral, fruity, peppery, herbal
Common Styles: American Pale & Brown Ales, and English-style Ales
Origin: US

German Mandarina

Alpha Acids: 7-10%
Notes: citrus, fruity – esp. tangerine
Common Styles: American IPA, Black Ales, Saisons, and Brett fermentations
Origin: Germany


Alpha Acids: 7-11%
Notes: flowery, spicy and citrus-like – grapefruit, orange, lemon, melon, apricot, peach
Common Styles: IPAs, Ales, Bitters, and Wheat Beer
Origin: US

Falconer’s Flight

Alpha Acids: 9.5-12%
Notes: floral, citrus, tropical fruit
Common Styles: IPAs and Pale Ales
Origin: US

U.S. Goldings

Alpha Acids: 14.5-17.5%
Notes: mild, earthy, citrus, spicy
Common Styles: English beers – Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Porter, Stout; Belgian Styles, and Barleywines
Origin: US

Bittering Hops


Alpha Acids: 9-12%
Notes: floral, citrus
Common Styles: US-style Ales, IPAs, and Wheat Beers
Origin: US

Sorachi Ace

Alpha Acids: 11.5-14.5%
Notes: citrus, herbal
Common Styles: Saisons, IPAs, and Wheat beers
Origin: Japan


Alpha Acids: 11.5-15%
Notes: citrus, spicy, pine
Common Styles: American Pale Ales, IPAs, and Barleywines
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 13.5-16%
Notes: woodsy, earthy, herbal
Common Styles: ESBs, Pale Ales, Stouts, and Barleywines
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 14.5-17.5%
Notes: earthy, citrus, spicy
Common Styles: Pale Ales, IPAs, and Stouts
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 15-17%
Notes: citrus, spicy, herbal
Common Styles: Barleywines, Stouts, IPAs, and Pale Ales
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 15-19%
Notes: citrus, resinous
Common Styles: Pale Ales, Extra Pale Ales, and IPAs
Origin: US

Dual-purpose Hops


Alpha Acids: 5.5-8.5%
Notes: floral, citrus – lemon &pineapple, spicy, herbal
Common Styles: Belgian-style Ales, American ales, Pilsners, Lagers
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 5.5-9%
Notes: floral, citrus – esp. grapefruit, spicy
Common Styles: American Pale Ale, Amber Ales, and IPAs
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 6-9%
Notes: spicy, earthy, floral, fruity – esp. mango
Common Styles: Classic American Pilsners, Porters, Ales, and Stouts
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 6.5 – 10%
Notes: earthy, floral, fruit
Common Styles: English and American Ales
Origin: US

Northern Brewer

Alpha Acids: 7-10%
Notes: pine, herbal, cedar
Common Styles: ESBs, Bitters, English Pale Ale, Porters, and California Commons
Origin: England


Alpha Acids: 10-12.5%
Notes: citrus, tropical fruit – pineapple
Common Styles: West Coast-style IPAs and Pale Ales
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 10.5-14%
Notes: earthy, floral, fruity –sometimes blueberry, mint, lime peel, black pepper, bubblegum aromas
Common Styles: IPAs and Pale Ales
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 12-14%
Notes: earthy, citrus – passion fruit, berry pine
Common Styles: IPAs and American Pale Ales
Origin: US


Alpha Acids: 13-15.5%
Notes: citrus, tropical fruit – papaya, melon, mango, fruity – berry, orange peel, herbal, fresh pepper; Common Styles: IPAs and American Pale Ales
Origin: US

El Dorado

Alpha Acids: 14-16%
Notes: sweet, candy-like, stone fruit, tropical fruit
Common Styles: Blonde Ales, IPAs, and Wheat beers
Origin – US


Alpha Acids: 15.5-18%
Notes: pine, herbal, citrus
Common Styles: IPAs and American Pale Ales
Origin: US

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