A Brief Guide to Hops, and Hop Varieties

Hops, that little green flower that you add to your beer. They are vital most beer styles. They add a bitterness that balances the sweet malty wort, flavors and aromas that range from spicy and piney to fruity and citrusy, and provide anti spoiling agents in their bitter oils to help keep beer from becoming infected.

The longer hops are boiled, the more bitterness they add, but the less aroma and flavor they add. After 15 minutes, your aroma contributions will be almost none, and after 20 the flavor drops off. Between 21 and 44 minutes is kind of a dead zone where you aren’t getting great use from your bittering additions and not getting flavor or aroma either. 45-60 minutes is where you’ll get the most from your bittering hops.

Evaluating Hop Information for Brew Planning

When looking at a hop package in your local homebrew store, or browsing hops online, you may see a few words with percentages after them. These typically refer to Alpha Acids (AA), Beta Acids (BA), and Cohumulones.

Hop Acids(1)

Alpha Acids contribute the bitterness to your beer through boiling. The higher the Alpha Acid content, the more bitterness you’ll get. So something with an AA of 4% like a noble hop, won’t add as much as a hop with 9% AA.

Beta Acids are a bit more tricky. They don’t add any bitterness to your beer when boiled and only contribute a bitterness when beer becomes oxidized during long periods of aging or lagering.

Cohumulones are a type of Alpha Acid, (the other relevant one being Humulones). Cohumulones add a harsher bitterness, while Humulones add a softer bitterness. These aren’t always listed on hop varieties so if you don’t see it, you can assume it’s an average amount. If it is particularly low or high it may be listed.

Being familiar with how these acids work with your beer will help determine hops to use in recipe formulation along side their flavor and aroma profiles. Now let’s go over some popular hops in the homebrewing community.


Hop Varieties - Alphabetically

There are hundreds of hops varieties, and new ones pop up every year. Not all of them are available everywhere, or they sell out fast depending on popularity. Alpha Acids are listed in the middle of their typical range.


  • 5_3 Amarillo Pellets

    AA 14%
    Smooth Bitterness and faint citrus aroma

  • Ahtanum
    AA 6%
    Citrusy and floral, strong grapefruit
  • Amarillo
    AA 9%
    Citrus, Floral, Peach, Apple
  • Apollo
    AA 18%
    Orange, strong bittering
  • Azacca
    AA 15%
    Citrus, Tangerine, Grapefruit, Pine
  • Admiral
    AA 14%
    Smooth Bitterness and faint citrus aroma



  • Belma
    AA 12%
    Fruity, Melon, Clean
  • Bramling Cross
    AA 8%
    Spicy, Lemon
  • Bravo
    AA 15%
    Mild, Floral, Clean Bittering
  • Brewer’s Gold
    AA 7%
    Earthy, Spicy, Black Currant


  • 3_3 Challenger Pellets

    AA 13%
    Lemon, Earthy

  • Cascade
    AA 7%
    Citrusy, Smooth Grapefruit
  • Centennial
    AA 9%
    Balanced Citrus, Smooth
  • Challenger
    AA 8%
    Clean Bitterness, Spicy
  • Chinook
    AA 12%
    Spicy, Pine, Mild Grapefruit
  • Citra
    AA 12%
    Powerful citrus and tropical fruit
  • Cluster
    AA 6.5%
    Spicy, Floral aroma
  • Columbus (Tomahawk, Zeus, CTZ)
    AA 14%
    Strong bitterness, Earthy, Resinous
  • Comet
    AA 10%
    Powerful Grapefruit, Citrus
  • Crystal
    AA 3%
    Flowery, Spicy


AA 6%
Mild spiciness, mild citrus



  • Fuggles
    AA 5%
  • Falconer’s Flight
    AA 10%
    Citrus, Floral, Grapefruit
  • Falconer’s Flight  7Cs (or 7 Seas)
    AA 9.5%
    Fruity, Pine, Earthy
  • First Gold
    AA 7%
    Spicy, Earthy



  • Hallertau
    AA 3%
    Spicy, Floral
  • Herkules
    AA 14%
    Fruity, Spicy
  • Horizon
    AA 12%
    Citrus, Floral, Clean Bittering
  • Herald
    AA 10%
    Strong Bitterness, Grapefruit
  • Hull Melon
    AA 7%
    Strawberry, Melon


  • Kohatu
    AA 6%
    Strong floral, Pine, Citrus


  • Legacy
    AA 7%
    Floral, Currants, Spicy
  • Liberty
    AA 4%
    Mild Spice and Earthy


  • Manyarka
    3_2 Magnum Pellets

    AA 7%
    Earthy, Pine

  • Meridian
    AA 6.5%
    Floral, Fruit
  • Magnum
    AA 12%
    Mild Aroma, Clean bitterness
  • Millenium
    AA 14%
    Clean, Herbal
  • Mount Hood
    AA 6%
    Mild, some fruit, some spice
  • Mount Rainier
    AA 7%
    Mild Citrus, Mild Spice
  • Motueka
    AA 7%
    Lemon, Tropical, Spice
  • Mosaic
    AA 10%
    Mango, Berry, Melon



  • Opal
    AA 9%
    Spicy, Floral, Fruity


  • 9 Pacifica Pellets

    AA 8%
    Mild Spice

  • Pioneer
    AA 8%
    Mild Citrus
  • Pride of Ringwood
    AA 9%
    Citrus, Herbal
  • Phoenix
    AA 9%
    Clean Bitterness, Spicy
  • Polaris
    AA 19%
  • Perle
    AA 7%
    Balanced Spice, Mild Bittering
  • Pacific Jade
    AA 12%
    Peppery, Citrus
  • Palisade
    AA 7%
    Fruity, Earthy
  • Pacifica
    AA 5%
    Orange, Citrus, Floral
  • Pacific Gem
    AA 14%
    Clean Bittering, Citrus, Summer Berries


  • Rakau
    AA 9%
    Spicy, Stone Fruits
  • Riwaka
    AA 6%
    Grapefruit, Citrus, Orange


  • Super Alpha
    AA 11%
    Piney, Lemon
  • Super Pride
    AA 9.5%
  • Summit
    AA 18%
    Smooth, Orange, Citrus
  • Stella
    AA 15%
    Spicy, Floral, Earthy
  • Styrian Goldings
    AA 5%
    Spicy Aroma Hop, Mild
  •  Sterling
    AA 8%
    Floral, Mild Citrus
  • Spalt
    AA 4%
  • Sovereign
    AA 5%
    Earthy, Pine
  • Sorachi Ace
    AA 13%
  • Simcoe
    AA 14%
    Pine, Citrus, Smooth Bittering
  • Saphir
    AA 4%
    Fruity, Citrus
  • Saaz
    AA 4%
    Soft Bittering, Spicy


  • Target
    AA 9%
    Herbal, Earthy
  • Tettnang
    AA 4%
    Spicy, Woody
  • Topaz
    AA 9%
    Spicy, Orange, Earthy
  • Tradition
    AA 6%
    Floral, Earthy


  • Ultra
    AA 5%
    Spicy, Floral
  • Vanguard
    AA 5.5%
    Floral, Herbal,


  • Warrior
    AA 16%
    Clean Bittering, Citrus
  • Wakatu
    AA 8%
    Floral, Spice, Fruit
  • Willamette
    AA 4.5%
    Herbal, Spicy


  • Zythos
    AA 11%
    Strong Fruit, Citrus, Pine


written by David Doucette

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