Citra, Simcoe, and Galaxy might be some of the most popular hops today, but there was a time when the American Four Cs and the noble hops of Europe dominated the market. The newer hops might have been developed specifically to meet the tastes of the new generation, but classic and older hops also have their appeal.
The Noble Hops
If you’ve ever been to an Oktoberfest, you’ll know the taste of Hallertau brews. This German hop evokes earthy flavors and aromas, heavy on the spice with a sprinkling of floral notes. There’s even a hint of citrus if you delve deep in its aromas. Hallertau is perfect for Oktoberfest brews like German ales and lagers.
The Czech Saaz has gone through a lot of problems and has undergone nine instances of cloning to preserve the lineage. These sensitive hops produce spicy and earthy tones when used as a flavoring hop, but they are usually reserved for bittering and aroma.
This German hop evokes flavors and aromas reminiscent of tea. Its intense herbal flavors and aromas mixed with a bit of spice and a hint of citrus are indeed refreshing — if a bit bland. Go full iced tea by pairing it with Citra, Galaxy, or some other fruity hop to make it a bit more interesting. On its own, it’s perfect for making German lagers, bocks, and pilsners.
Tetnang hops are grown all over the world, but if you want a taste of the real noble hop — you need to get it from Germany. Like Saaz, Tetnang is more of a bittering and aroma hop, producing deep spicy tones and mild floral aromas.
The 4 Cs
Cascade is one of the hops that started America’s love for the fruity and citrusy hop, and it is still one of the most popular hops in the USA. Cascade is citrusy with mild floral and spice tones. You’ll usually find it in American-style lagers and IPAs.
Dubbed as “Super Cascade” for its strong citrusy notes, Centennial was the citrus king until Citra came along. It has intense citrusy tones of grapefruit with milder floral notes. It works well as a bittering and flavoring hop, but you might want to add another hop for aroma.
Chinook is an excellent bittering and aroma hop, evoking bold aromas of grapefruit, pine, and mild spiciness. On its own, it is suitable for brewing pale ales, IPAs, and light lagers.
Columbus is the least “American” of the 4 Cs because of its comparably lighter flavors of citrus and fruit. It is most often used as a bittering hop, but it does produce exciting flavors and aromas. On its own, it evokes intense herbal flavors, slightly peppery with a hint of licorice. You can detect cannabis-like flavors if you go heavy in the flavoring or aroma stage of the brew.
Looking back at the classics can sometimes give you a new perspective — and maybe even inspiration — in your brewing endeavors. Take a brewing trip to the past and get a taste of the best of Europe and the USA.