Hops Plant Types: How Many Hops Varieties Are There

detail of hop cones in the hop fild
Image by aaron007

By Liz Baessler

Beer is officially made up of four ingredients: water, yeast, malted grain, and hops. Hops are the cone-shaped flowers of the female hops plant, and they are used to preserve the beer, clear it, help retain its head and, of course, gives it its classic bitter flavor. If you brew your own beer and you’re looking to get more involved in the process, growing your own hops is a great place to start. But how do you know which types of hops plants to grow? Keep reading to learn more about hops varieties and their uses.

Hops Plant Types

How many hops varieties are there? That’s a tough question to answer, because there are so many. There are about 80 different hops plant types commercially available today, but that number is not hard and fast.

Beer brewing is a complex business, and new varieties are constantly being bred and developed. Even 80 is an awfully high number if you’re looking to choose a single variety to grow. Luckily, there are some easy ways to narrow your selection down.

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Hops can be split into three main categories: bittering, aroma, and dual.

  • Bittering hops tend to have a high amount of acid in them and impart that recognizable bitter flavor onto the beer.
  • Aroma hops have less acid but a more pronounced flavor and aroma, and are used to make the beer taste and smell a specific way. Most beer recipes call for both kinds of hops.
  • Dual hops tend to have a mid-range to high amount of acid and a good smell and aroma, and can be used for both aroma and bittering. If you want to brew a beer with just your homegrown hops, one of these dual hops plant types is a good choice.

Best Types Of Hops Plants

The best hops varieties for doing double duty for both bittering and aroma have a nice strong scent and a mid-range to high Alpha Acid percentage (usually between 5% and 15%). If you’d like to be able to follow recipes when using your hops, it’s also a good idea to pick common hops plant types that are popular in recipes and well documented. A few good, popular, dual types of hops plants are Chinook, Centennial, and Cluster.

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