Also available in Monday Magazine.
When people ask for recommendations on beer, I usually ask what kind of beer they usually drink.
The response I get quite often is “Oh, I’ll drink anything, but I don’t like hoppy beers.” What usually happens next is a small amount of confusion when I ask if it’s the hop flavour or bitterness that they don’t like, because at the end of the day, most beer drinkers have been trained that hops will always be bitter.
Hops have been commonly used in beer for nearly a thousand years, but there has been a big shift in how they’re used with the growth in craft brewing.
In the past, boiling the hops for most of the process led to bitterness as one of the main results, especially in IPAs and pale ales, so people have avoided those beers altogether for fear of getting something they won’t enjoy.
In recent years, brewers have been playing around with the other end of the hop spectrum, with amazing results. Dry hopping, where hops are added to the fermenter instead of boiled, has expanded the flavour profiles on many beers, creating juicier flavours that can be especially refreshing during hot summer months.
Phillip’s Brewing’s Tiger Shark Citra Pale Ale, with notes of citrus like grapefruit, orange, and tropical fruit like pineapple and passion fruit, is a great example showing that hops don’t need to mean bitterness, and can actually make for a lighter, fruity beer, without any added fruit. Another striking option is 4 Mile Brewing’s East Coast IPA, which takes those same flavours and takes them up to 11 in a hazy, flavourful beer that could almost be mistaken for orange juice when poured.
Finally, with their recent relaunch, Vancouver Island Brewing’s Broken Islands Hazy IPA is a nice light approach to the hazy, juicy and easy-drinking offerings that are on your local store’s shelves.
If you’re interested in seeing just what wide range of flavours hops can give a beer, check out Phillip’s Hopoxia, being held June 9 from 3 to 7 p.m. in their festival-friendly backyard. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through Ticket Rocket and at the brewery.