My knowledge about hops and their contributions to bittering and aroma:

The hops can be grouped by four purposes, being: Bittering, Aroma and Dual, the dual can be divided yet by "bittering/aroma" and "aroma/bittering" (summarizing the four groups).

Some vendors says that bittering hop (single-purpose) can only contribute to bittering, none or negligible contribution to aroma. In others hands, the aromatic hop, can only contribute to aroma, none or negligible contribution to bittering. But the dual purposes hops can contribute to both, usually more to one than another (bittering or aroma), according to the first and second word, the first word says what the hop can contribute more.

The Question:

If the boiling extracts the bitter from hops, and its flavor and aroma are lost. Why the bittering hops (single purpose) is presented by vendors with their all aromatic notes ? Why or when its aromatic notes are important for the beer ?

"Bittering hops single-purpose", can still be used to contribute to the aroma ? Is it meaningful ?

  • 2
    You're thinking about this too strictly. ANY hop can be used for ANY purpose. It all depends on the particular hop and your goals.
    – Denny Conn
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 14:58

4 Answers 4


All hops contribute both aroma and bitterness in varying degrees. Grouping them into 4 hard categories is somewhat arbitrary. In general they are grouped as aroma vs bitterness, but if you wanted to you could simply use more "aroma hops" early in your boil and still end up more bitterness (and vice versa).


"Bittering hops" are those with high alpha acids that contribute more IBUs than one with less alpha acids. But a bittering hop that is not boiled for long (or added post-boil) will not contribute to high IBUs or bitterness, just aroma and flavor.

You can use a so-called bittering hop for aroma and flavor and vice-versa. There may be debate on whether that results in excellent tasting beer, but it's doable, and the flavor and aroma profiles of these high alpha acid hops are important in those cases.

  • I edited the question trying to clarify it. When you say "bittering hop", are you saying the dual purpose hop, or single purpose bittering hop ?
    – Luciano
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 14:43
  • Luciano - any hop will contribute bittering, flavor, and aroma, depending on the amount of time it spends in the boil. Single purpose bittering hops don't have the most appealing and/or apparent aroma or flavor. Single purpose aroma hops can be used for bittering, but you need large quantities because they typically have low AA% and so they are expensive to use as bittering.
    – jalynn2
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 15:15
  • @jalynn2: The economic infeasibility of low AA hop for bittering is ok. But what about the use of high AA hop for aroma/flavor when labeled as 'bittering single-purpose' ? Why are they usually applied (mostly) for bitterness ?
    – Luciano
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 18:26
  • 1
    @Luciano - Because the aroma/flavor of those hops is usually very harsh
    – jalynn2
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 14:42
  • There are known commercial beers or BJCP styles that explores the harsh effect of bittering hops (single-purpose) ?
    – Luciano
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 15:09

This chart shows the different components of a large variety of different hop types:

Chart of hop aroma and bittering components

(Linked file for high resolution)

I found the chart on this blog post about hops but actually I originally saw it at the London Beer Lab, who do an awesome course on brewing (we were the audience for their prototype course, which was pretty cool).

Basically, above the line will be flavour and aroma components; below the line is bitterness.

Alpha acids control bitterness, and are not that volatile. For that reason, bittering hops are usually added near the beginning of the boil.

Aroma and flavour (which are kind of the same thing) are modulated by volatile chemicals. Actually the volatility is the reason they have such a strong effect on this: they evaporate and can reach receptors in the nose. Their volatility means at higher temperatures, they tend to disappear; flavour and aroma hops are therefore added near the end of the boil (we've used fifteen minutes for flavour and five for aroma).

Some hops a lot of alpha acid but not much aroma, and vice versa. If you use "aromatic" hops for bittering, a lot of the volatile chemicals will boil off and you arguably waste those; if you use high alpha acid hops for aroma, you might not get as strong an aroma, but you probably won't get too much extra alpha acid either because the section of the boil you use them for is comparatively short. That's about it.

However, as you can see from the chart, most hops have a decent amount of both aroma and alpha acids. Moreover, the aromatic compounds fall into several categories. So, for example, you might want a specific aromatic note in your beer which happens to be well-served by a "bittering" hop. In that case, go for it.

I'm going to make a google sheets version of this, by the way, so I can work out hop substitutions—there are six degrees of freedom and forty types of hops here, so some substitution must be possible.


I have used low AA hops such as Saaz 3-4% in a bittering role and high AA hops such as Amarillo 8-11% in a Aroma flavour role, both to very good effect. There are no hard and fast rules on this. One thing to remember is that the flavour and aroma profile of bittering hops will come through in the final brew, even if you boil for 60-90 min.

All modern hops can be used to for early addition/bittering role, you will just have to use 3 or 4 times as many as a 'bittering' hop.

Also, many bittering hops can be used in the Aroma or dry hopping role.

  • Although you can do anything you want with any kind of hops, hops with high cohomulone should be avoid in aromatic purposes, mainly if you intend to use it in dry hop. Is that right ?
    – Luciano
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 12:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.