What Are Some Other Popular American Hops?
Last time we looked at the Three Cs of hops, Cascade, Centennial and Columbus that helped to define the flavors of American IPAs. Today we’ll cover a few other hops commonly used in American IPAs that are distinctive enough to pick out when you smell and taste them.
Amarillo is a patented plant grown exclusively by Virgil Gamache farms in Washington. The story is that they discovered it growing wild on their farm and thought “beer should be made with these”. And they were right! It has similar lemon, grapefruit and citrus qualities to Cascade but even more pronounced. It’s like a super Cascade but a little more orange-like. The citrus character found in Smuttynose IPA is a great example of this hop.
Citra hops are the peppy newcomers on the block having only been around since 2009. If there was a Hawaiian Punch version of hops, this would be it. Citra imparts papaya, mango, passionfruit and pineapple notes. Sounds yummy, right? It can be found today in a lot of IPAs that are looking for a slightly different profile. Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA is dry-hopped with Citra and it is prominently featured in Troegs Perpetual IPA and Clown Shoes Eagle Claw Fist Imperial Amber.
Simcoe is another trademarked hop and is grown by Washington’s Yakima Chief Ranch. When you stick your nose into a glass of IPA and it smells like Christmas, you’re smelling Simcoe. It has a woodsy, piney aroma and flavor with a touch of apricot and citrus. It’s a dual-use hops, meaning it’s used for both bittering and aroma. Dogfish Head’s 60 and 90 Minute IPAs feature it as does Peak Organic’s Simcoe Spring and Heavy Seas Loose Cannon.
Summit hops are grown in Yakima Washington and top the list in alpha acids, which means that it packs a punch and is mostly used for bittering. When a light touch is used, it can highlight nice citrus notes. Used in large amounts, it brings out a garlic or onion flavor. While this sounds gross, it actually works quite well in beers. Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s has a hint of onion from Summit but is more pronounced in their Gubna which is brewed with only Summit. Another beer that has this onion note is Founder’s Devil Dancer which is a summer seasonal.
IPAs have become one of the most popular craft beer styles in America and that’s in no small part because of the wonderful nature of American hops. Next time you order one, see if you can identify which hops are used.