Secret Life Of Hops

Trends in the World of Beer

 

We’re fickle, us craft beer drinkers. Every year there’s something new to join the old favourites; new styles, new hops, new breweries, new processes and a lot of new brews. We don’t forget that lager we love or the ale we always order, but curiosity has us scanning the selection in search of something new. Here’s what’s been hitting the taps in the last few months and what we can expect more of in the future.

 

Hazy IPAs

Hazy might be under-selling this one: cloudy would be better. This trend is for extra hoppy beers which look, smell and taste like fruit juice. The cloudiness comes from grain proteins (extra wheat and oats in the brew) and by being unfiltered which together gives a smooth, full body to go with the juicy flavours of using loads of citrusy American hops. Many are low in bitterness but massive in aroma, where if you see ‘DDH’ on anything then it means ‘Double Dry Hopped’ and aroma hops have been added twice late in the process to make it smell even more fruity.

 

Single Hopped Beers

We’ve fallen for the headiness of hops and now we want to know exactly the varieties we’re drinking. Single hopped beers use just one variety throughout to showcase exactly the qualities you get from it, where they’re usually Pale Ales and IPAs and they go big on aroma. Other beers might say a couple of hops, like Citra Galaxy IPA, for example, making the specific hops the stars and giving them headline billing.

 

Brewing with Fruit

We’ve come to want more and more fruitiness in our Pale Ales and IPAs. Usually this comes from the hops, especially the abundantly fruity American, Australian and New Zealand varieties, but sometimes, when you want a really, really fruity beer, the best option is to just add actual fruit. Grapefruit, mango, orange and pineapple are particularly popular, where juice, pith or both are added to make it juicy and pithy and tangy and extra fruity.

 

Session IPA

Another hop-driven trend on the list (this list could just be hop-related trends because hops are still the thing getting the most attention in beer). It seems that we like hoppy beers so much that we want to drink more and more of them. But a couple of 6%ABV IPAs and we’re done. Instead, Session IPAs have emerged as the cool new style. These beers give all the flavour, hops and impact of an IPA only with a lower alcohol content. And guess what? We’re also seeing Session IPAs that are hazy, ones that contain fruit and some which are single-hopped.

 

Sour Beers

Pucker up! Sour beers are tantalising the tastebuds and turning light wheat beers tart with the kind of bacteria that gives yogurt its tang. These brews, sometimes called Berliner Weisse, other times simply ‘sour,’ could be gentle or could be eye-wateringly acidic but most tend to be refreshing. You’ll sometimes see Gose, which includes salt and coriander, and a lot of these sour beers include either fruit or have hops added (even in sours we can’t avoid hops!) just for aroma. These wheat beers are ‘fast sours’ and there are also ‘slow sours,’ like Belgian Lambic and Gueuze, which are left to mature for months or years in wooden barrels, developing a deep complexity often closer to fine wines than Best Bitters.

 

Dessert Beers

Not beer for dessert, but beers inspired by dessert or edible treats. Brownie Stout, Pecan Pie Porter, Lemon Meringue Pale Ale, Chocolate Milk Stout, peanut butter beers, crème brûlée, cookies, milk shakes… Most are a bit of fun, some are a novelty, some are unfortunately terrible, and others can be a delicious beery treat. They’re not often beers to drink by the pint, unless you have a very sweet tooth, but they make a great liquid dessert or sharing beer.

 

Collaborations

I thought the craze of collabs finished a few years ago but it seems they’ve come bursting back out again as brewers join together and make something new as a one-off special. Rarely are these your straight-up ales and instead the surge of creativity, curiosity or just complete kookiness comes through into some weird and (not always) wonderful brews. Think of the best like seeing your two favourite bands jamming together on some new tunes; the worst are the equivalent of a room of six year olds all trying to sing different songs.

 

Have you noticed any other new beer trends in the last year?