I oftes see videos where people describe (what I believe is hop-related aroma) with words like spicy, floral, citrusy, etc., but for me it is very hard to get (and to tell apart) any of this. So what are the main aromas that describes hops, and most important, how can I train my nose to recognize at least the main hop-realted aromas?

  • great question, I've been wondering about this myself... Apr 30, 2013 at 16:20
  • 2
    One caveat I learned, after having struggled with this myself, is that these flavors/aromas are described by the thing that they are CLOSEST to, but often times are not that exact aroma. So when we say a hop smells "flowery", (like EKG for example), its not REALLY the exact smell of flowers, its just that that's our closest approximation, and some are closer to the real thing than others. Sometimes its easier to compare two hop flavors side by side (EKG vs Cascade, for example) to really get a sense of why we call one "flowery" and one "citrusy".
    – GHP
    Apr 30, 2013 at 16:30
  • Another potential way is to go somewhere where they have a randalizer. A brewpub near me had a night where they offered the same beer sent through a bunch of different types of hops using their randalizers. I couldn't make it but a friend of mine said it was awesome. One day I hope they do it again. May 1, 2013 at 3:47

2 Answers 2


For some hands on learning with less effort required than brewing several SMASH batches, you can dry hop some bland beer as explained here. I did not write that nor have I tried it yet but it looks like an interesting experiment.


A great way to learn the distinct flavors of hops/grains is SMaSH (Single Malt and Single hop) brewing.

By using a single grain and a single hop you can really focus on one flavor at a time. So if you make a beer that is 100% cascade, you can expect to taste a flowery and spicy, grapefruit flavor. Once you get a feel for what that tastes like move on to a new hop. Using this method over several varieties of hops can really train you to look for a distinct aromas and flavors.

The only way to really get a good feel for flavors is experience.

  • I've got a Munich + Spalt Smash Ale that's just about ready to keg now (you could call it an Amber, I guess). Vienna + Northern Brewer is a good one I've done before too.
    – GHP
    May 1, 2013 at 12:07

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