Beerista: The rise of single hop beers

Brewers want flavour and aroma hops, which is driving the development of new varieties

We all know our Citra from our Mosaic, right? Well, if you really want to bore your date, mention a few of the experimental hops doing the rounds. These are so new they don’t even have names yet – like the catchy HBC-431.

It’s all part of the hop craze that continues to dominate the craft beer scene, of course. And lately, you’ll see a lot more “single hop” beers on the shelves. These are beers designed to showcase the unique flavours and aroma of a particular hop. Generally, they tend to be IPAs or pale ales.

For years, hop-breeding programmes were driven by big brewers who were looking for high alpha acid hops (primarily for bittering purposes) and didn’t care too much about aroma. Now, brewers of hoppy beers want flavour and aroma hops, which is driving the development of new varieties.

The global hop shortage also means many brewers are experimenting with new styles, and trying out different hop varieties when they can’t get the old reliables.


Pilsner Urquel is one of the original “single hop” beers. This is a Bohemian Pils brewed with the Saaz hop, one of the Nobel hops, which has a spicy, grassy characteristic.

You won’t find “single hop” written on the bottle, of course, because it was being brewed way before hops were cool.

Blacks of Kinsale recently released Exp 431 which is a session IPA at 4.3% using a new experimental hop. It's light-bodied with a tropical aroma and I enjoyed a very fresh glass of this on draught at 57 the Headline recently (bottles are also available).

Mandarina Bavaria, the second in Eight Degrees’ single hop series, is a 5.7% IPA using a new German hop. There’s a hint of pineapple in the aroma and it has a lovely clean tangerine punch – perfect for a sunny afternoon in the beer garden.

@ITbeerista beerista