I want to try and acquaint myself with different hop flavours and brewing a few batches of beer can be quite time consuming (and wasteful if the results are no good).

How can I quickly (in say, a day) compare the flavours of a range of hops? I'd like to encompass bittering and aroma qualities if possible.

Is a basic hop tea sufficient? If so, what ratio of hops to water should I use? Should I do a few basic boils with extract malts to compare? What works?

  • +1 Good question. And I really like the "experiments" tag!
    – Poshpaws
    Commented Jul 22, 2011 at 20:01
  • Haha - thanks for the edits. Lousy auto-correct... Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 1:04

5 Answers 5


There's a new technique storming the homebrew scene called SMaSH - Single Malt and Single Hop beers. By brewing with a single malt (usually 2-row or pale ale malt) and a single hop, you can easily discern the different flavors and aromas of hop varieties.

You could boil a malt extract or wort in 5 different vessels (small 1-2 gallon pots would do the trick), and add a different hop to each one at say, 60, 15, and 1 minute intervals for bittering, flavor, and aroma, respectively. Then you could get 1 gallon glass jugs and pop in a bung & airlock in each one. An adequately prepared yeast starter can be rationed into each mini-fermenter, and a few weeks later you'll have 5 beers differing only in hop variety.

I've never done this but just a thought. If you're interesting in doing the SMaSH method, try and get your hands on Amarillo. One of the tastiest brews I've made to date - and the simplest.


Mikkeller makes a Single Hop IPA series, which consists of the same base beer (same malts from a single batch, same yeast) but each of the 20 beers are hopped with a different hop. This has been brewed with exactly your goal in mind: to get to know the character of each hop.


There's not a great way that I know of to do this is the short answer. Hop teas generally taste like crap, and without letting the beer ferment, you're not going to get a great picture of what the hops will "taste" like.

I'll echo Graham's comment about the Latitude 48 IPA 12 pack from Sam Adams. I've read about it, but not been able to find it... yet.

The longer term (and most fun) answer is to brew a bunch of beer with just one hop varietal each. That way, you get to try them all and drink a bunch of beer.


You can NOT both "compare hop flavors quickly" and "without brewing a few batches". These are mutually exclusive. You must consume single hop beers of different hops in order to compare the flavors.

Think about it... it is impossible to compare flavors using other sense, such as vision or smell.

In short, MontbardBrewing already correctly answered this question. As a homebrewer of 20 years, all I can do is +1 his answer.

FYI - This past spring, if you were lucky you could have found the Sam Adams Lattitude 48 SPECIAL 12-pack. The Lattitude 48 special pack had 4 versions of single hop IPA, so you really could quickly compare hop flavor. I still have a couple of these tucked away in my wine fridge. :-)


One (slightly cheating) option is to buy some commerical beers for which you know the hop additions. Then you can try them all out and see if you can distinguish between the different flavour and aroma characteristics.

Unfortunately there are going to other variables as well such as malt and water variations, but you might be able to reduce this by sticking with one brewery.

You can clearly taste hop-driven differences in beers if you have a few to choose from on tap in your local from the same brewery.

Quite fun homework too.

  • 1
    Sam Adams has a 12 pack of their Latitude 48 IPA that splits the pack into different batches that use a single hop each, but all with the same base grain & yeast. The hop varieties are, I think, Hallertau, Simcoe, East Kent Golding, Ahtanum and Zeus. The EKG was the best, to my last buds. The Ahtanum and Zeus had the turbo citrus American hop flavor. I think the Simcoe was similar but can't recall. The Hallertau was just kinda weird but not horrible.
    – GHP
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 20:10

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