Andrew Mailen Breaks Down The Secret Behind Beer’s Greatest Ingredient + What You Taste When You Drink Beer


Two hipsters walk into a bar and sit down next to you. One hipster pretentiously says to the other, “the use of Centennial Hops in this beer is so avant-garde.” The other hipster begins laughing as he takes off his large, black-rimmed glasses, places them down on the counter, then looks at his friend and says, “you most certainly mean the beer has Cascade Hops!” Then as the other is about to argue back, you drown the idiotic debate out while sheepishly sinking back into your chair- you are very confused. You think to yourself, I don’t even know what hops are. Well, fear no more, lover of beer, here is an inside look at one of the most important flowers in the entire world….


Hops are a beautiful, female bud of the Humulus Iupulus plant. Hops come from the hemp family, which is why they look familiar to some of you scoundrels. These wonderful little flowers are one of the main ingredients in beer, and more importantly, they are one of the biggest determinates of a beer’s taste and smell. You may have heard one of your friends say, “WOAH this beer is so hoppy!” She or he is probably talking about an IPA or a pale ale that has a very piny or citrusy smell/ taste profile. However, nearly all beers have hops, but hops are not exclusive to beers that taste “hoppy.” Hops are in beers that are roasty, toasty and dark. Hops come in all shapes, sizes and genetic breakdowns. And 2 hop varieties are never identical.


Different areas of the world give us different types of hops. For example, as you will see on the easy to read chart below, Washington is known for a variety of hops known as Simcoe (among many others). Simcoe Hops are the ingredient in Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe IPA that makes this Pennsylvania craft brew really stand out. Get your hands on one today!


Oregon is another great state for hop cultivation. Oregon is also a big reason tha the USA is considered a successful hop growing country. Oregon gave us the world-famous Cascade Hops, Mt. Hood Hops and Willamette Hops. Those hop varieties have helped the USA reach #2  in hop production. Oregon’s climate, which is really shaped by its proximity to the ocean, makes this state a hop giant! Look at this beautiful Oregon hop farm.


Germany is the mecca for hops. It is number 1 in the world in hop sales. They have been in the hop game for longer than The United States has been a country. The German Purity Law that all German breweries must brew according to is over 500 years old. The law includes 4 ingredients: water, yeast, barley and you guessed it, hops. The Germans really know how to grow their hops and get a beer to taste just right by using the perfect combination of minimal ingredients.



I didn’t get too far into the science behind hops, because to be perfectly honest, you can find that somewhere else by someone else that can explain it a lot better than I can. I just wanted to give you a heads up on some of the more popular types of hops so you can know what you are tasting when you go out with some friends and try a new beer. I’m making this relevant to the everyday person’s drinking experience. An added bonus is that you can sound like you know what you’re talking about a little bit more the next time you go out with some of your friends. However, don’t go too overboard with this. There’s nothing more annoying and silly than sitting down next to two people who don’t know what they’re talking about and having to deal with them babbling on about falsities the entire night.

Some Popular Hop Variations

Hop Year Origin Taste/ Smell Styles Example
Cascade 1956 Oregon Strong Citrus/ Grapefruit Aroma.. Centennial on Steroids American Pale Ales and Lagers Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale
Centennial 1974 USA High Alpha Acid/ Very Floral American Pale Ales and IPAs Founder’s Centennial IPA
Mount Hood 1983 Oregon Smells like the forest with a little kick German/ American Lagers Long Trail’s Harvest
Northern Brewer 1934 England Woody, Evergreen, piny. Steam Beer, English Ales, German Lagers Anchor Steam Beer
Simcoe 2000 Washington Similar to Cascade, Woody, oniony (WTF??) IPAs, Ambers

Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe

Willamette 1976 Oregon Fruity , woody, spicy, floral aroma Brown Ale, Porters, Stouts Southern Tier’s Imperial Oatmeal Stout
Zeus 1861 England Earthy, Citrus tones. Stouts, Bittering American Style Ales Samuel Adam’s Latitude 48

Posted on November 8, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hmmm, so I’m pretty confident you’ve got Cascade and Centennial confused or slightly combined. Centennial is high alpha acid very floral aroma hop that can also be used to for bittering and floral flavor. Citrus notes are very subdued. Cascade, on the other hand, is a low alpha aroma hop that imparts a much stronger citrus/grapefruit aroma and flavor with spicy notes. Otherwise, a good writeup!

  1. Pingback: Beer – #236 – West Coast – 1080 | A life just as ordinary.

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