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What Is Hoppy Beer & What Does It Taste Like? (2024 Best Edition)

What Is Hoppy Beer

Last Updated on March 23, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Beer is a fermented beverage that can get beginners, or even seasoned enthusiasts, confused and overwhelmed with the wide range of varieties. 

Hops is one of its traditional ingredients, historically used as paper fiber, salad plant, and medicine. But for beers, hops add bitterness and act as a flavor enhancer.

So what is hoppy beer? What makes a beer hoppy?

Understanding Hoppy Beers

man pouring beer on a glass

Traditionally, beer is made of yeast, malt, water, and hops. The brewer decides how to combine the ingredients to produce the final flavor of the finished beer. 

Hops provide balance to the beer with its bitter flavors, along with its fruity and floral notes.

It is a flower of the Humulus Lupulus plant, adding stabilizing and antibacterial properties to beer and helping it ferment cleanly [1]

Simply put, a hoppy beer has a strong hop flavor and aroma.

What Does “Hoppy” Mean?

Hoppy means having the aroma and taste of hops, mainly in beer or ale [2].

Of course, beers described as hoppy must not only be bitter, but they must also contain all the characteristics of hops in their flavor profile.

The first documented use of a hop plant was around the 8th century, and it most likely came from China.

As the use of hops grew more widespread, the un-hopped beer varieties started to decline.

Why Is It Called A Hoppy Beer?

hops plant

It is called a hoppy beer because the hops are added at the beginning of the brewing process, extracting its maximum bitterness.

Like any other bitter herb, hops are essential to beers because they balance residual sugars and keep the beer fresh longer. 

In a process called dry hopping, the bittering hops would be added during fermentation, creating complex aromas of fruit, citrus, and pine.

Read: Blue Moon Beer Flavor Profile

Its Alcohol Content

The alcohol content of hoppy beers ranges from 5% to 15% ABV, slightly higher than the average regular beer with 3% to 5% ABV.

“Beer is defined by its ingredients. The malted grain-based brewing process and the use of hops are unique to beer.”

– Matt Brynildson, Brewmaster at Firestone Walker Brewing Company 

Despite that, hoppy beer is not always stronger than regular beer as it depends on the makers and brands. 

What Do They Taste Like?

hands holding glasses of beer

Hoppy beer showcases the extra hops used in the brewing process, usually ending up with intense hop flavors and aromas. 

Its bitter flavor helps balance the beer’s malty sweetness, while some develop fruity, floral, earthy, and citrusy flavors. 

However, some makers would incorporate so many hops into the beer, but it would only be a bit bitter. 

Read: Top Beers For Beginners

What Makes A Beer Hoppy?

A beer described as hoppy is one with a distinctive taste of bitterness or with fruity, floral aromas. It can also refer to the volume of hops included in the recipe. 

The beer’s bitterness is stated in IBU or International Bitterness Units. The IPA, or India Pale Ale, is among the most popular hoppy beers.

American-style IPAs are heavy with Centennial Columbus and Cascade hops.

Dark beers, like stouts and porters, are dominated by the flavor of the malt component, so they were not defined as “hoppy.”

Common Hoppy Beer Styles


Bitterness Level: 20-40 IBU (Lower-mid) 

Hop Flavor: High Hop

Pilsner has pale yellow to light gold appearance and contains 4.5% to 5.5% ABV. These hop-forward beers are clean, crisp, and refreshing.

There are also malts and citrus flavors on the palate. 

Classic Bitter

Bitterness Level: 25-55 IBU (Medium) 

Hop Flavor: Medium Hop

The classic English bitter is a popular style during the 20th century and is even considered the national drink of England by some.

The bitter taste is not that dominant, but it’s enough to balance the beer’s sweetness. These beers are around 5% ABV, with a gold to-copper appearance.

New England IPA

glass of beer with pool on the background

Bitterness Level: 25-60 IBU (Medium)

Hop Flavor: High Hop 

NEIPA or New England IPA beer is a popular craft beer, containing 5% to 7% alcohol and tastes like fresh fruit juice when drinking.

The hops and yeast impart the fruit flavors of the beers, and many fans called them “juicy beers.”

Pale Ale

Bitterness Level: 30-50 IBU (Medium) 

Hop Flavor: High Hop

Pale ales are a popular beer that started in 1703 in England, but Americans, Belgians, and other countries have adopted it with varying flavors.

It usually contains 4% to 6% ABV, with a gold to amber color. 

This style has a balanced hoppy and malty taste, with hints of citrus imparted by adding more hops.

India Pale Ale

Bitterness Level: 50-70 IBU (High) 

Hop Flavor: Very High Hop

The India Pale Ales were developed in the 1820s by British brewers [3]. It is golden to amber, with 5% to 7% ABV, and it has taken the craft beer scene recently.

Double Or Imperial IPA

glass of beer

Bitterness Level: 65-100 IBU (Very High) 

Hop Flavor: Very High Hop

Double or Imperial IPA is an American IPA that reaches an alcohol content of more than 7% ABV or higher.

It has a bold and complex hop-forward flavor as it uses double or even triple the amount of hops that American IPA uses. It is considered one of the hoppiest beers.

American Barleywine

Bitterness Level: 50-100 IBU ( Very High) 

Hop Flavor: High Hop Flavor

The American Barleywine usually has 8% to 12% ABV and is amber to rich copper.

The hop here is less dominant than in the Double IPA, but flavors like caramel and bready sweetness balance the bitter taste of American hops.

Hoppy vs Bitter Beer: How Do They Differ?

Hoppy and bitter beers differ mainly because of their tastes. Hops act as the bittering element, but the resulting bitterness depends on other factors like the number of hops, type, and how it is used. 

Hoppy beers would highlight all the quality of hops and contain more alcohol, while bitter beers focus on bitterness and are usually lower in alcohol. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an example of a hoppy beer?

An example of a hoppy beer is an India Pale Ale (IPA). IPAs are known for their prominent hop flavors and aromas, which can range from floral and citrusy to piney and resinous.

These beers often showcase the bitterness of hops, balanced with varying degrees of malt sweetness and alcohol content.

Some popular examples of hoppy IPAs include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, and Stone IPA.

What kind of beer is be hoppy?

“Be Hoppy” is a phrase commonly associated with beers that have a pronounced hop character, particularly those in the India Pale Ale (IPA) style. Beers labeled as “hoppy” typically feature prominent hop flavors and aromas, often with a noticeable bitterness derived from the hops.

While IPAs are the most common type of beer associated with being hoppy, other styles such as American Pale Ales (APAs), Double IPAs (DIPAs), and even some Belgian-style ales may also be described as hoppy if they exhibit significant hop presence.

What does hops in beer mean?

Hops are flowers of the hop plant (Humulus lupulus) and are a key ingredient in beer. Hops contribute bitterness, aroma, and flavor to beer, balancing the sweetness of malted barley and providing complexity to the overall flavor profile.

In beer brewing, hops are typically added during the boiling stage of the brewing process to extract bitterness, and sometimes added later during fermentation or conditioning to impart additional aroma and flavor.

The bitterness of hops comes from compounds called alpha acids, which are isomerized during boiling. The aroma and flavor of hops come from essential oils and other compounds present in the hop cones.

Different hop varieties can impart a wide range of characteristics to beer, including floral, citrusy, piney, herbal, or spicy notes, allowing brewers to create a diverse array of beer styles with varying levels of hop character.

What hoppy means?

In the context of beer, “hoppy” refers to the presence of hops in the beer’s flavor and aroma profile. Hops are cone-shaped flowers of the hop plant (Humulus lupulus) and are a crucial ingredient in brewing beer.

Beers described as hoppy typically exhibit pronounced hop flavors and aromas, which can include bitterness, floral notes, citrusy tones, piney characteristics, or other herbal and spicy nuances.

The level of hoppy character in a beer can vary widely depending on factors such as the type of hops used, the timing of hop additions during the brewing process, and the overall recipe formulation.

Hoppy beers are often associated with styles such as India Pale Ales (IPAs), American Pale Ales (APAs), and Double IPAs (DIPAs), where hops play a prominent role in defining the beer’s flavor profile.

How do I know if a beer is hoppy?

There are several ways to determine if a beer is hoppy. One of the most obvious indicators is the beer’s aroma; hoppy beers typically have a noticeable hop aroma that can range from floral and citrusy to piney and resinous.

Additionally, hoppy beers often exhibit a degree of bitterness on the palate, which is imparted by compounds called alpha acids found in hops. This bitterness can vary in intensity depending on the beer’s style and recipe.

Another clue is the beer’s flavor profile; hoppy beers may have distinct hop flavors that complement or dominate other malt-derived flavors. Reading the beer’s description or label can also provide information about its hop content and style.

Beers labeled as IPAs, APAs, or featuring terms like “hop-forward” or “hoppy” are likely to have a significant hop presence.

Is Corona beer hoppy?

Corona beer is not typically considered hoppy. Corona Extra, one of the most popular variants of Corona beer, is a pale lager brewed with a relatively low hop content. It is known for its light and refreshing taste, with subtle malt sweetness and a crisp finish.

While some lagers may contain hops for balancing bitterness, they generally do not showcase hop flavors and aromas to the same extent as hop-forward styles like IPAs.

Corona’s flavor profile is characterized more by its clean and light-bodied nature, making it a popular choice for easy-drinking and refreshing beer, particularly in warm weather or beachside settings.

What beer is not hoppy?

Several beer styles are typically not hoppy or have minimal hop character. These include:

Lagers: Lagers, such as American lagers, pilsners, and helles, generally have a clean and crisp flavor profile with minimal hop bitterness and aroma.

Wheat Beers: Wheat beers, such as hefeweizens and witbiers, often prioritize yeast and malt flavors over hop bitterness, resulting in a more balanced and sometimes slightly sweet taste.

Brown Ales: Brown ales tend to emphasize malt sweetness and nutty or caramel flavors rather than hop bitterness.

Stouts and Porters: Stouts and porters often feature roasted malt flavors, with minimal hop presence to complement the rich and robust malt profile.

While these styles may contain hops for balancing sweetness or providing a subtle background bitterness, they are not typically considered hoppy in the same way as styles like IPAs or pale ales.

What does hoppy taste like in beer?

The taste of hops in beer can vary depending on factors such as the hop variety used, the amount of hops added, and the timing of hop additions during the brewing process.

Generally, hops can impart flavors that range from floral and citrusy to piney and resinous. Hoppy beers often exhibit bitterness on the palate, which can be described as herbal, earthy, or sometimes slightly spicy.

Some hop varieties may also contribute specific flavor characteristics, such as tropical fruitiness or herbal notes.

Overall, the taste of hops in beer can be complex and multifaceted, adding depth and dimension to the beer’s flavor profile.

What are hoppy drinks?

“Hoppy drinks” typically refer to alcoholic beverages that feature a prominent hop character, particularly in terms of flavor and aroma. While beer is the most common type of beverage associated with hops, other alcoholic drinks may also incorporate hops for their distinctive bitterness and aromatic qualities.

For example, some craft breweries produce hop-infused cocktails or hop-flavored spirits, such as hop-infused vodka or hop-flavored gin.

Additionally, hop-forward beers like IPAs and pale ales are often referred to as hoppy drinks due to their pronounced hop presence.

These beverages are characterized by their hop-derived bitterness, aroma, and flavor, which can vary depending on the specific hops used and the brewing techniques employed.

Which beer has the most hops?

The beer style that typically has the most hops is the India Pale Ale (IPA). IPAs are known for their pronounced hop character, featuring significant hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma.

Within the IPA category, there are variations such as Double IPAs (DIPAs) and Triple IPAs (TIPAs) that often have even higher hop levels.

These beers showcase a wide range of hop varieties, each contributing unique flavors and aromas, from floral and citrusy to piney and resinous.

Breweries may also experiment with hop-forward techniques like dry hopping, where additional hops are added late in the brewing process or during fermentation to enhance hop aroma without increasing bitterness.

Can you make beer without hops?

While hops are a traditional and essential ingredient in most beer recipes, it is possible to make beer without hops.

Historically, before the widespread use of hops in brewing, alternative ingredients called “gruit” were used to impart bitterness and flavor to beer. Gruit typically consisted of a mixture of herbs and spices such as yarrow, bog myrtle, and sweet gale.

Some modern brewers still experiment with gruit-style beers, using herbal blends in place of hops to achieve bitterness and flavor balance.

Additionally, there are beer styles such as Gose and Berliner Weisse that traditionally use other souring agents like lactic acid bacteria or salt for flavor instead of hops.

While these beers may not have the same hop character as traditional hop-forward styles like IPAs, they can still offer unique and complex flavor profiles.

What beers have hops?

Hops are a fundamental ingredient in the vast majority of beers, as they contribute bitterness, aroma, and flavor to the finished product. Virtually all beer styles, from lagers to stouts to ales, incorporate hops in some form. However, certain beer styles emphasize hops more prominently than others. These include:

India Pale Ales (IPAs): IPAs are renowned for their hop-forward character, with significant hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma.

Pale Ales: Similar to IPAs but generally with slightly lower hop levels, pale ales also showcase hop bitterness and aroma.

Double IPAs (DIPAs) and Triple IPAs (TIPAs): These are amped-up versions of IPAs with even higher hop levels.

American Pale Ales (APAs): A variation on the pale ale style, APAs typically feature American hop varieties with citrusy and piney characteristics.

Imperial Stouts and Porters: While not traditionally hop-forward, some imperial stouts and porters may incorporate hops to balance the sweetness of the malt and add complexity to the flavor profile.

These are just a few examples, but hops can be found in a wide range of beer styles, contributing to the diverse flavors and aromas found in the world of brewing.

Is hoppy beer better?

Whether hoppy beer is considered “better” depends on individual taste preferences. Hoppy beers, such as India Pale Ales (IPAs) and American Pale Ales (APAs), are known for their pronounced hop flavors and aromas, which can range from floral and citrusy to piney and resinous.

Some beer enthusiasts appreciate the bold and complex flavors that hops contribute to beer, while others may prefer beers with a more balanced malt profile or fewer hop-derived characteristics.

Ultimately, the perception of whether hoppy beer is “better” is subjective and varies from person to person. It’s essential for beer drinkers to explore different styles and flavor profiles to determine what they enjoy most.

So, What Is Hoppy Beer?

Beers described as hoppy are not only bitter but must also showcase other characteristics of a hoppy flavor.

Hops add bitterness to all beers, balancing the sweet flavors of the drink. The bitterness is stated using IBU or International Bitterness Units.

Craft beers like the Pale Ales, IPA, and Double or Imperial IPA are popular hoppy beer styles.


  1. How Is Beer Made
  2. Hoppy
  3. What Is India Pale Ale Beer?
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