What is the difference between American and English hops?

Answered by Charles Pate

As an expert sommelier and brewer, I have had the privilege of working with a wide variety of from different regions around the world. When it comes to comparing American and English hops, there are some distinct differences in flavor profiles and characteristics.

English hops, known for their long history and traditional heritage, tend to offer more subtle fruit notes. While there may be hints of fruits such as citrus or berries, the overwhelming characteristics of English hops are often herbs, spices, and pepper. These hops bring a certain earthiness and complexity to the , adding depth and nuance to the overall flavor profile.

On the other hand, American hops have gained immense popularity in recent years, particularly due to the movement. American hops are known for their bold and vibrant flavors, often bursting with tropical fruit and citrus notes. Think of flavors like mango, pineapple, grapefruit, and even passionfruit. These hops can add a refreshing and zesty element to the beer, creating a more tropical and fruity experience.

One reason for the stark contrast in flavor profiles between American and English hops is the result of different terroirs and growing conditions. English hops are traditionally grown in a cooler climate with milder summers, which contributes to their more subtle fruit notes and herbaceous qualities. On the other hand, American hops are often grown in regions with warmer climates and ample sunshine, allowing the hops to develop those bold, fruity flavors.

Another factor that has influenced the difference between American and English hops is the demand and popularity of certain beer styles. With the rise of American craft beers, which often showcase the hops as a prominent flavor component, the demand for American hops skyrocketed. This led to a decline in English hop growing, as brewers shifted their focus towards the bold and vibrant flavors of American hops.

In my own brewing experiences, I have found that the choice of hop variety can dramatically impact the final product. When using English hops, I have crafted beers with a more balanced and nuanced flavor profile, where the hops play a supporting role rather than taking center stage. On the other hand, American hops have allowed me to create beers with explosive aromas and intense flavors, making them stand out in a crowded market.

To summarize the difference between American and English hops, English hops offer subtle fruit notes but are more known for their herbal, spicy, and peppery characteristics. American hops, on the other hand, have big flavors of tropical fruit and grapefruit, thanks to their warmer growing conditions and the demand for bold flavors in craft beers. This has resulted in a decline in English hop growing, as American hops have taken the spotlight in the brewing world.