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We Asked 10 Beer Pros: What Are the Most Overrated and Underrated Hops?

We all know Citra and Mosaic bring all the beer nerds to the taproom, and Old World noble hops like Tettnagner and Saaz have served as the backbone of lagers and pilsners for hundreds of years. But through repeated rounds of cross-breeding and nations across the globe bringing their terroir to the table, plenty of hops have now enjoyed their fair share of hype.

Whether or not that hype is warranted, though, can change. Some hops are harder to cultivate than others, and sometimes one year’s crop just isn’t as good as previous ones. In spite of that, many brewers rely on certain varieties as their secret weapons regardless, whether they be tried-and-true Pacific Northwest stalwarts or unsung heroes of the hop cultiverse. That means many beers get pumped full of the same varieties time and time again, for better or worse.

Are the ubiquitous hops that we’ve come to love still the cream of the crop, or are some just plain overrated? And which hops don’t get quite as much love as they deserve? To get the truth, we consulted with 10 brewers and beer pros to find out which hops are — and aren’t — worth the hype.

The Most Overrated Hops, According to Brewers:

New Zealand hops

“Galaxy was the hype hop a few years back, but after some inconsistent crop years, I personally don’t think it lives up to the hype anymore. Simcoe is a hop that has had a similar drop-off in the past, but I now feel like it’s the best it’s been in a long time, and almost reminds me of what I remember Galaxy tasting like in its prime.” —John Aravich, brewer, Five Dimes Brewery, Red Bank, N.J.

“Not that any hop is overrated, but New Zealand hops seem to be dominant in almost every IPA and lager these days. They’re great, but it would be nice to have other options sometimes. Right now, I really love seeing noble hops in traditional styles, and I especially hope to see classic West Coast hop flavors in advertised West Coast IPAs.” —Christa Sobier, owner, Beer Witch, Brooklyn

“Sabro has become one of the most divisive hops. It’s immediately recognizable coconut-sunscreen sweetness has earned it a legion of fans, and maybe an even greater number of haters. I’m one of those haters. Sabro overpowers in even the most restrained additions. Its acreage peaked in 2021 and it has lost 85 percent of acreage since then. Perhaps it is on its way to becoming simply ‘rated,’ but if you want sweet hops, you don’t need to stoop to the level of Sabro. Consider late-pick El Dorado, Nectaron, Vista, or even experimental public hop HRC-003.” —Eric Sannerud, president, Sannerud Hop Consulting, Milaca, Minn.

“I’m gonna have to say Mosaic. I just don’t get it. There’s these weird menthol and oniony notes in there. Don’t get me wrong, I love those characteristics sometimes. It just hasn’t hit my palate right. Maybe if it’s mixed with other hops I enjoy I can do it, but on its own, I just can’t quite get behind it. Regardless, I would say brewers should keep using it, and hopefully my taste changes soon because I know there’s some bangers out there. But we’re pretty limited with what we can find in little ol’ Montana, but keep it up and change my mind about it in the best way.” —Jacob Principe, head brewer, OddPitch Brewing, Missoula, Mont.

“I think there is a time and place for every hop, though I do feel brewers tend to rely on Citra too much. There, I said it.” —Keir Hamilton, head brewer, Union Street Brewing Co., Hudson, N.Y.

The Most Underrated Hops, According to Brewers:

Idaho 7
Michigan-grown hops
Sorachi Ace 

“Some people say that diamonds are their best friend, but for me it’s Cashmere! CLS Farms Cashmere hop is one of the most underrated hops. With notes of lemon-lime, melon, and coconut, this is an ideal hop to showcase in lagers. I loved it in our 2023 release of the One in Eight fundraiser collaboration. It also can hold its own in wheat beers, pale ales and IPAs, too. It’s one of the hops that we have used in our Enchantment Hazy IPA series and in our Dragontail IPA.” —Pamela Brulotte, founder, Icicle Brewing Company, Leavenworth, Wash.

“An underrated hop that I have been using for a while has been Idaho 7. It has the potency to be the star of the show and the uniqueness to contribute different flavors to a hop combo. I personally select Idaho 7 from Crosby Hop Farms for its peach-ring aromas, [which I’ll] add to my hazy IPA whirlpools and occasionally a dry hop.” —Derek Gallanosa, head brewer, GOAL. Brewing, San Diego 

“I like Michigan-grown Comet, Fuggle, Chinook, and Saaz. I feel like I have a better chance of getting quality, fresh-tasting hops of those varieties from a more localized source. As an industry, Michigan hop growers are trying hard and learning more every day about which hops grow best here. There’s a shorter hop-growing window than out west, different diseases and pests than out west, and a hop that grows great out there doesn’t necessarily grow well here. As [we] learn more and more, we’re able to transition out of a German-grown variety to a variety grown just 20 miles up the road from us. It reduces our carbon footprint, and it gives us a better chance at getting a good-quality hop.” —Brian Confer, co-owner and head brewer, Stormcloud Brewing Company, Frankfort, Mich.

“Recently, we’ve loved messing around with Aramis hops. We threw it in a French pilsner called Fouet — part of our Whip series — which came out beautifully. It was one of our most popular lighter beers this year, in large part from the Aramis hops. It’s not a very popular [hop], but it’s one we love. It’s a French hop, and it’s got a sort of cracked pepper and floral note, and that’s what stuck out.” —Dave DelSonno, services director, Carton Brewing Company, Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

“Call me basic, but I personally loved when everyone latched on to the Southern Hemisphere hop train, with Motueka especially taking a top spot on my roster. It’s hard to call it underrated since I don’t think a collective opinion really formed around it the same way it did for Simcoe or Cascade, but in my opinion, I always appreciate the balance it brings to hop-forward beers. The most underrated hops might be the stuff that barely gets used anymore in lagers where they can really stand out, like Sorachi Ace. It’s such a crazy combination of herbal and lemony citrus that I think it throws people off who are looking to hone on a middle-of-the-road take.” —Zachary Mack, owner, ABC Beer Co., NYC

The article We Asked 10 Beer Pros: What Are the Most Overrated and Underrated Hops? appeared first on VinePair.

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