Dissecting Three Favorite Hop Varieties

[This post is an archived article from NinkasiBrewing.com that is no longer active. As an employee I wrote them for the blog, but all links have been deleted and these are being posted far after the original post]

Pine resin. Grapefruit. “Dank.” When many of us think of hop aromas in beer styles like India Pale Ale those are some of the most common descriptors. However there are a whole number of hops out there we use in the Ninkasi brew houses that that provide a range of fruit aromas and flavors, ultimately creating a pretty amazing diversity among our hop-forward products. Let’s briefly shine a light on a few of the hops in our cooler and how they contribute to some of our flagship products.

Flight of Relevant Beers

Amarillo – The Underdog – Total Domination
With primary flavor and aroma descriptors like grapefruit and pine resin noted above, Total Domination has what many of us consider the classic Northwest IPA hop profile. And while hops like Crystal and Summit provide that resinous impact, what individual hops like Amarillo often don’t get enough credit for is providing not only a spectrum of citrus aroma from mandarin orange to lemon, but also a delightfully floral note that comes out after a few sips. Here Amarillo is the balancing counterpoint to the weighty contributions of its brethren. Although for many of us the year 2000 doesn’t seem that long ago, after 17 years of its existence, Amarillo has truly become a go-to hop in US IPA brewing and it’s not difficult to see why.

Citra – The Wunderkind – Pacific Rain
There’s a reason Citra is so sought after since its creation in 2007: In many ways it’s the “fruit punch” of hops. Bred from multiple hops like Brewer’s Gold, East Kent Goldings and more, it’s little wonder how it came to showcase so many flavors. On its own we find characteristics from citrus to passionfruit and its aroma impact on Pacific Rain is evident. We combine Citra with earthy, resinous hops like Simcoe and another truly fruit-laden hop, Mosaic. With the complex hop-dosing and dry-hopping schedule it takes to make Pacific Rain, we’ve created a refreshing pale ale that pushes out bales of hop aroma and flavors sure to appeal to both lovers of the classics and the new-school.

Box of Mosaic Hops

Mosaic – The Chameleon – Dawn of the Red
Developed in 2012, Mosaic is the youngest hop we’re focusing on here, but despite its youth it has quickly become a go-to hop for us. Bred from resinous Simcoe and the earthy, herbal Nugget, Mosaic certainly fits in among the more familiar hop aromas but takes its real abilities steps further. Its name not only comes from its ability to play well with others, but also the plethora of flavor descriptors it can provide: tropical fruit, mint, bubble gum, black pepper. While you may not pick up all those notes in a single beer, what you are certain to find in Dawn of the Red is a medley of papaya, peach, and pineapple. With the addition of Ahtanum and El Dorado and a sizeable dry-hop charge, this Red IPA winds up being one of our most aromatically approachable offerings.

With those three we’ve barely just scratched the surface when it comes to the hops we use and how they work. What are your favorite hops and why? Down the road we’ll also continue to dive into the ingredients we use and other unique brew house processes we use here at Ninkasi. Feel free to post suggestions or questions in the comments section below!

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