The Citrusy Aromas of Riwaka Hops

Riwaka , also known as Riwaka Brand 85.6-23, are a highly sought-after variety that hails from the beautiful Riwaka River valley in New Zealand. Renowned for their distinctive aromas and flavors, Riwaka hops have become a favorite among brewers around the world.

The name “Riwaka” has its roots in the Māori language, with “riu” meaning interior or bilge, and “waka” referring to a canoe. This name reflects the rich history and connection to the land that this hop variety embodies. The Riwaka River valley, where these hops are grown, is not only known for its hops but also for its abundant orchards.

Riwaka hops are dual-purpose hops, meaning they can be used for both bittering and aroma purposes. Their aroma is often described as a delightful combination of grapefruit, citrus, and passionfruit. These vibrant and tropical aromas make Riwaka hops particularly well-suited for adding a burst of fruity freshness to various styles.

The development of Riwaka Brand 85.6-23 was a result of the New Zealand Hops with a difference breeding program. It is a triploid aroma type, created by crossing the traditional “Old Line” Saazer hop with specially selected New Zealand breeding varieties. This crossbreeding process led to the creation of Riwaka hops, which were first released by New Zealand's Plant & Food Hop Research Centre in 1997.

New Zealand Riwaka™ hops have quickly gained a reputation for their exceptional quality and unique flavor profile. Breweries worldwide have embraced these hops, incorporating them into a wide range of beer styles, from IPAs to pale ales and beyond.

When it comes to with Riwaka hops, their high alpha acid content makes them suitable for adding bitterness to the beer. However, it is their intense aroma that truly sets them apart. Brewers often use Riwaka hops as a late addition or dry hopping, allowing their distinct citrusy and passionfruit notes to shine through.

In addition to their aromatic qualities, Riwaka hops also possess excellent storage stability. This means that they can retain their flavors and aromas for an extended period, ensuring a consistent and enjoyable drinking experience.

The Riwaka River valley, with its fertile soil and ideal climatic conditions, provides the perfect environment for growing these remarkable hops. The region's orchards and hop fields create a picturesque landscape that is not only pleasing to the eye but also yields some of the finest hops in New Zealand.

Riwaka hops are a prized variety that offers a unique combination of fruity aromas and flavors. Their origins in the Riwaka River valley and the meticulous breeding process that brought them to life contribute to their exceptional quality. Whether used for bittering or aroma, Riwaka hops have become a favorite among brewers worldwide, adding a touch of New Zealand's natural beauty to every pint.

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What Do Riwaka Hops Taste Like?

Riwaka hops are renowned for their distinctive and vibrant aromas and flavors. When it comes to taste, Riwaka hops are often described as having strong notes of grapefruit, citrus, and passionfruit. These flavors provide a refreshing and zesty character to the beer or they are used in.

Riwaka hops are considered a dual-purpose hop, meaning they can be used for both bittering and aroma purposes. When used for bittering, they contribute a clean and crisp bitterness to balance out the sweetness of the . However, it is in the aroma department where Riwaka hops truly shine.

The aroma of Riwaka hops is incredibly aromatic, with intense bursts of grapefruit, citrus, and passionfruit hitting the nose. The grapefruit notes can be particularly prominent, adding a tangy and slightly edge to the overall aroma profile. These fruity and citrusy aromas can be quite potent, creating a delightful sensory experience for hop enthusiasts and beer lovers alike.

To summarize, Riwaka hops have a distinct taste profile characterized by grapefruit, citrus, and passionfruit flavors. They contribute both bitterness and intense aromas to beers, making them a popular choice for brewers looking to add a burst of citrusy freshness to their creations.

What Is Riwaka Hops?

Riwaka hops, specifically Riwaka Brand 85.6-23, is a type of triploid aroma hop. It was created as part of the New Zealand Hops with a difference programme, which aimed to develop unique hop varieties. Riwaka hops were bred by crossing the “Old Line” Saazer hop with carefully selected New Zealand breeding lines.

Here are some key points about Riwaka hops:

– Riwaka Brand 85.6-23 was first introduced by the Plant & Food Hop Research Centre in New Zealand in 1997.
– Riwaka hops are classified as an aroma hop, meaning they are primarily used for their aromatic properties rather than their bittering qualities.
– The name “Riwaka” comes from the location in New Zealand where the hops were initially cultivated.
– These hops are triploid, which means they have three sets of chromosomes instead of the usual two. This can contribute to their unique characteristics.
– Riwaka hops are known for their intense and distinctive aroma, which is often described as having strong citrus and tropical fruit notes.
– They are prized by brewers for their ability to add bright, zesty flavors and aromas to beers, particularly in hop-forward styles such as IPAs and pale ales.
– Riwaka hops have gained popularity among craft brewers around the world for their unique flavor profile and versatility in brewing different beer styles.
– The hop cones of Riwaka hops are typically small to medium in size and have a bright green color.

Riwaka hops are a triploid aroma hop variety that was developed in New Zealand through selective breeding. They offer a distinct citrus and tropical fruit aroma and are highly sought after by brewers for their flavor contributions to various beer styles.


Riwaka hops from New Zealand are an exceptional variety that offers a unique and desirable combination of aromas and flavors. With its distinct grapefruit, citrus, and passionfruit notes, Riwaka hops add a refreshing and vibrant character to beers.

Not only are Riwaka hops versatile in their usage, being suitable for both bittering and aroma purposes, but they also bring a touch of New Zealand's natural beauty to the brewing process. The name itself, deriving from the Māori language, reflects the connection to the land and the significance of the Riwaka River valley where these hops are grown.

The breeding of Riwaka Brand 85.6-23 showcases the dedication of New Zealand's Plant & Food Hop Research Centre in creating exceptional hop varieties. By crossing the renowned Saazer hop with carefully selected New Zealand breeding lines, Riwaka was born, offering a distinctive profile that has captivated brewers worldwide.

With its reputation as one of the most prized hop varieties from New Zealand, Riwaka hops have become a sought-after ingredient in the industry. The demand for Riwaka hops continues to grow as brewers and beer enthusiasts appreciate the unique and vibrant flavors they bring to a wide range of beer styles.

Whether used to enhance the aroma, add bitterness, or provide a refreshing twist, Riwaka hops have proven themselves to be a valuable addition to any brewer's toolbox. Their ability to create complex and memorable flavors makes them a standout choice for those seeking to create exceptional and distinctive beers.

Riwaka hops are a true gem of New Zealand's hop industry. Their delightful grapefruit, citrus, and passionfruit characteristics, along with their versatility and rich history, make them a must-try for brewers and beer lovers alike.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.