Hops get a lot of attention in craft brewing. The lupulin-dusted flowers not only give beer its balance and bitterness, but add aromas and flavors ranging from pine trees to pineapples.
Thanks to hop breeding programs, research grants, brewers’ experimentation, and craft beer drinkers’ willing reception-bordering-obsession with new hop varietals, new strains and hybrids are always in progress. To gauge what the next hot hop will be, we asked beer professionals around the U.S. what’s on the horizon — to Galaxy, and beyond.
“Strata. We may be partial, because we plan on making a ton of Dare to Know, our DIPA with lotsa Strata.” — Anna Selver-Kassell, VP Hospitality, Threes Brewing, Brooklyn, NY
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“I think two hops that will start to gain notice in the near future are Triumph (think Juicy Fruit) and Barbe Rouge (bright red berry notes). We’ve been playing with them and have been pumped by the results. Also, I hope that an old trend will return: using lots of different hops to create brand new dynamics, rather than focusing on just a couple of the most popular.” — Jordan Fink, Head Brewer and Co-owner, Woods Boss Brewing, Denver, CO
“Hop breeding programs are doing such a good job now of creating incredible flavor and aroma profiles that I don’t think the question is ‘which one?’ but ‘how many?’ I predict we will have four or five hops that will compete and all be impossible to get. Having said all that, I’d love to see a resurgence of Cluster, one of the oldest American varieties.” — Aaron Reilly, Head Brewer of the Basecamp Brewpub, Devils Backbone Brewing, Roseland, VA
“There are so many being developed, it is hard to say. If anyone clones a Galaxy type — whoo hoo!” — Dennis O’Harrow, Head Brewer, Lone Tree Brewing Co., Lone Tree, CO
“Any new hop that could be dual purpose … that can be used for bittering and aroma.” — Marks Lanham, Head Brewer, Comrade Brewing, Denver, CO
“Strata is a newer hop out in the market that is gaining popularity. It’s loaded with citrus and berry notes and I can see a lot of brewers wanting to brew with it, including me.” — Chris Juergen, Head Brewer, Karbach Brewing, Houston, TX
“I had to consult our head brewer, Josh Evans, for this one. He’s pretty interested in playing with the recently named Sultana, which he used in its experimental form, because of its potential to combine with a couple of other hops to really push flavor one way or another (pine to pineapple to citrus). The way it plays with other hops will be fun to explore in the coming months. Whether or not other brewers across the U.S. jump on this hop bandwagon or some other, there’ll be plenty of great aromas and flavors coming to craft consumers next year!” — Carol Cochran, Co-owner and Co-founder, Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO
“Southern Passion.” — Paul Friedheim, Lead Brewer, Thirsty Monk, Asheville, NC
“I’ve no idea, but I do wish there was more quality Galaxy being grown. I love that hop, but breweries our size just can’t get a hold of any. Endo is going to be making a single hop batch out of Sultana in a few weeks — I can’t wait to see how that turns out.” — Kevin Van Winkle, Co-owner and Head Brewer, Endo Brewing Company, Lafayette, CO
“We are entering the age of ‘S.’ Strata and Sabro are two hops which have a ton of potential and will start showing up in many larger-scale releases.” — Chris Rockwood, Head Brewer, Magic Hat Brewing Company, Burlington, VT
“I would like to see something developed at a publicly funded breeding program like those at Washington State [University] or Oregon State [University] become successful.” — Carl Heinz, Brewmaster, Breckenridge Brewery, Breckenridge, CO
“The varietals that are being produced regionally will explode once the farms catch up with demand. Colorado farms … currently can’t supply more than a batch at a time. … Some of the hops coming out of Arizona are showing up in volume and are amazing. … That said, South African hops currently seem to be what I keep hearing about.” — Chris Labbe, Owner, Periodic Brewing, Northglenn, CO
“All of my money is on the revival of Hall-Mitts and Loral; I guess that means more breweries will have to brew lager beer!” — Colin Ferguson, Sales Manager, Live Oak Brewing Co., Austin, TX
“Medusa, also known as Neo Mexicanus, is definitely one to watch. It’s not readily available quite yet, but a handful of breweries have experimented with Medusa and had great success, and eight different varieties of this hop are currently being developed. It’s native to Colorado and New Mexico. It’s particularly unique because it grows a multi-headed hop cone! We’ll be actively awaiting Medusa’s arrival on the hop market.” — Fred Searles, Head Brewer, Bonfire Brewing, Eagle, CO