Beer can give the appearance of being simpler than wine. But the same level of refinement and grace can be found in a good brew. And just as grape variety contributes heavily to a wine’s profile, the type of hops used has a huge influence on the flavor of beer.
A common misconception is that hops only serve to make beer bitter. While they do act to counter the sweetness of malt, they also provide aromatics and flavor, help with head retention and function as a preservative. Many also have flavor profiles strikingly similar to popular wine varieties.
Get to know more about specific hop varieties and find your new favorite beer by using your wine preferences as a guide.
Fan of Vermentino? Try Cascade hops
Fans of the citrusy, bitter finish of Vermentino will find similar flavors between the native Italian white grape and the Cascade hop. Named after the North American mountain range, this Pacific Northwest hop is a cornerstone in the growth of American craft brewing. Use of the hop was pioneered in beers like Anchor Brewing Company’s Liberty Ale and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Pale Ale.
Big on Verdejo? Centennial hops are for you
While Cascade set the bar for American craft beer, Centennial took it to the next level. Following the adage, “Bigger is better,” Centennial is a cross-breed of Fuggle, East Kent Golding, Brewers Gold, Bavarian and unknown hop varieties, which gives it more alpha acid. Nicknamed “Super Cascade,” it yields increased floral and pine aromas, pithier citrus tones and a crisp bitterness. Its floral notes and pith character make it ideal for fans of Verdejo. Centennial provides Bell’s Two Hearted Ale the grapefruit and pine flavor that helped it be named as the best beer in America in 2018.
Riesling lover? Look for Citra-hopped beers
Wine lovers who enjoy the fruit-forward flavors of Riesling will love beers brewed with Citra hops. Unlike most American hop varieties, which tend to give off primarily grapefruit notes, Citra is known for peach, mango and lychee. It’s also part of the new wave of American hops that have fueled the New England India Pale Ale trend over the last few years, like Trillium Brewing Company’s Citra Cutting Tiles. The hop is also the base for classic beers like 3 Floyds Zombie Dust Pale Ale.
All about Albariño? Go for Galaxy
Fans of Albariño might enjoy the similar peach notes found in Galaxy hops. A descendant of the Perle hop, this Australian hop gives pale ales and IPAs passion fruit, peach and citrus aromas. Hill Farmstead’s Double Galaxy IPA uses Galaxy to ramp up the tropical aroma.
Seeking Sauvignon Blanc? New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin delivers
Fans of cooler-climate white wines like Sauvignon Blanc can rejoice, as this hop was named for its similarity to your favorite grape. With gooseberry, white grape and black pepper flavor, this New Zealand-developed hop is versatile and adds spice with an edge of bitterness to a lager. It can also be used to provide a tropical infusion to ales. The white wine gooseberry notes shine through in single-hop Nelson IPAs, like Alpine Beer Company’s Nelson IPA.
Enjoy a juicy Grenache? Mosaic IPAs may be for you
Wine lovers who enjoy the red berry notes of Grenache will find a corollary with Mosaic. A relatively new variety, this Pacific Northwest hop has elements of blueberries and fruit punch, offering a juicy mouthfeel. Its versatile flavor is strong enough to carry a traditional, single-hop IPAs like Lone Pint Yellow Rose and Lost Nation Mosaic IPA, or it can be paired with another juicy hop in a New England IPA, like Other Half’s Citra + Mosaic Imperial IPA.
Chenin Blanc aficionado? Try El Dorado hops
For those who enjoy the stone-fruit flavors of Chenin Blanc, El Dorado’s cherry and apricot aromas might tempt. When used as a dry-hop addition (where hops are added after the brewing process, during fermentation), this Washington variety can bring intense fruit aroma. It helps bolster the tropical fruit and citrus flavor in Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing IPA, along with Citra, Comet, Simcoe, Mosaic and Magnum hops.