The rise of craft beer in the United States has put the spotlight on some unusual beer styles. One of them is hoppy beer, which offers a wide variety of flavors and different levels of bitterness. Keep reading to find out the main traits of this brew, and how to enjoy it to its fullest.
The hoppy beer style
At first, you may think a particular style like hoppy beer is most common among imported beer. The truth is there are many hop-forward American beers, like the popular IPA. To better appreciate it, let’s begin by understanding what hops do in a brew.
Hops are one of the main ingredients in any beer. They provide the bitterness, which in turn balances out the sweetness of the beer malt. Different levels of bitterness can be achieved in brewing according to the type and number of hops used, and how they are processed.
Also, they add taste and aroma to the drink. That is why many beer flavors rely on hops for earthy, floral, fruity, or pine notes.
Besides, it is important to note that while a lot of hoppy brews do carry a signature bitterness, not all of them do. Nowadays, craft brewers are using hops in a variety of ways to capitalize on their flavor and aroma without highlighting their bitterness. Most commonly, they add the hops in the latter stages of the process to lower their bitterness input.
The best ways to enjoy hoppy beer
Whether it is a more bitter brew or a flavor-forward one, hoppy beer is certainly a peculiar style to try. Here are some tips on how to enjoy it to its fullest.
First, look for beers with a strong malt base. This element balances bitterness. The taste of different beers is rather varied – tropical fruit, citrus, and even pine flavored ones. Such freshness makes them great palate cleansers, and therefore, ideal for pairing with food.
If you are trying hoppy beer with a lower malt level, pair it with food too. (See also: How to create unique beer flavors ). The stronger the flavor of the dish, the better for intense brews. The bitterness will perform at its best when combined with strong flavors — acidic, spicy, or fatty for example. Avoid having them with seafood, as the combination could create a kind of metallic taste.
Hoppy beer and food pairings you can try
- American Pale Ale or American Brown Ale complements the roasted game birds and grains.
- American Black Ale rounds off fatty flavors, like those in pork, duck, olive oil, or dairy products.
- Imperial India Pale Ale harmonizes with the commanding flavor of pork products, like sausages or tenderloin.
As American taste keeps on embracing craft beer, hoppy beer is an interesting option to explore. Brewers are growing keener on making it in a variety of styles, so you can enjoy both flavor-forward and classically bitter drinks.