After running through our testing on the new Great Lake Hop varieties courtesy of Hang ’em High, I wanted to research the other new hops being released out of the countries best known for hop production. We attempted to find hops that were released in 2019, 2020 or 2021, but some countries just didn’t cooperate like we planned. Since new hop varieties can take 10 or more years to develop, we shouldn’t be too surprised with the lack of new hops from some countries.
Countries like Australia, New Zealand and the United States have very active hop breeding programs that sometimes produce tens of thousands of combinations per year. Cultivating this amount of new hops cost a lot of cash, especially when only between 1-2% of the seedlings ever make it to the hopyard planting trial phase.
Time will only tell if any of these new hops become success stories. However, not every one needs to transform the industry like Nelson Sauvin or Citra. We actually predicted a few of these hops to hit it big in 2021.
However, smaller victories like Simcoe in 2000 or Amarillo in 2003 have been just as instrumental in the craft beer boom that we are experiencing today. In fact, while these two don’t get as much notoriety as Citra does, they have become the fifth and ninth most produced hops in the US, respectively.
The True Rookies
Not every country publicizes new hop releases the same way the US, Australia and New Zealand do. This made it difficult to reliably discern the release date of certain varieties, but we did our best to only find hops released from 2019 forward.
A lot of these hops you may have never actually heard of before, and that’s expected. It takes a couple of years for production and in-use levels to level out to where it becomes a household name. For instance, I am just now beginning to see Strata hops used in a handful of local beers, and it’s been publically available since 2018 (not to be confused with the Sabro hop, released the same year).
Anyway, without further delay, here are each country’s “Rookie of the Year” hop!
New Zealand: Nectaron (2020)
Nectaron is the successor to New Zealand’s most popular hop (Nelson Sauvin), and for good reason. Nelson hops are known for their white wine aromas, but Nectaron is chock-full of intense passion fruit, nectarine and pineapple characteristics.
It’s actually a bit insane how much these hops smell and taste like fruit, yet they are in no-way-or-shape fruit related. NZ Hops released this hop in mid 2020 with a ton of well-deserved noise. New Zealand actually needed this win as much as anyone seeing how Nelson Sauvin’s rights were about to expire the same year.
USA: Talus (2020)
Talus takes home the ROY award in the US, but this may be a situation where the votes were swayed by the big marketing machine. Barth-Haas and Yakima Chief Hops have thrown the marketing for this aroma hop into overdrive throughout the last year.
The image above has become a common sight to many that frequently peruse hop breeders’ websites, but the notoriety isn’t without merit. Talus is bursting with grapefruit, citrus, pine, floral and tropical fruit goodness, all of which pair great with other IPA-style hops.
USA Runner-up: Hydra (2019): To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of Hydra until Hang ’em High asked me to review some of their newer hops. I’d been blogging about hops for years, lived less than 5 hours away from Michigan, but never came across Great Lake Hops (GLH) before. Sure I’d heard of GLH, but no local beers featured their proprietary hops, nor did I ever see them in any of my local homebrew stores. But let me tell you… once I smelled Hydra, I knew it was going to be big. It’s only a matter of time before you start seeing it and its sister Bergamot around the country… provided of course that GLH can keep up with production. These are some of the most flavorful hops I’ve ever used, and that’s not hyperbole. They are really that good.
Australia: Eclipse (2020)
Eclipse is the newest proprietary variety from the hop breeding program at Hop Products Australia (HPA). While this hop was released to local breweries in 2020, it wasn’t available to home brewers until this year. Stock is still ramping up, so if you find this hop available at your favorite store, snatch it up.
Eclipse, along with Talus and Nectaron were nominated by Appellation Beer for their top new hop in 2021. Eclipse is the least available of the three right now, but in no way third in line. Bursting with citrus and fruit flavors, this dual-purpose hop can handle a single-hop beer just about as good as any. While it may not overtake Vic Secret or Galaxy any time soon, but it definitely deserves to be in their presence.
Germany: Solero (2019)
Solero was released by Hopsteiner in 2019 as an aroma hop with huge tropical fruit flavors. Originally identified as Experimental #243/42, Solero’s parentage includes Cascade is described as having intense 5-out-of-5 levels of tropical fruits, mango, and passion fruit flavors.
Unfortunately not much else is known about this hop. Hopsteiner needs to take a page out of the HPA or HBC notebook and promote the heck out of this hop. They are doing a disservice to themselves and brewers by keeping this one in the dark.
France: Elixir (2018)
Hops in France don’t have too much of a history yet. In 2014, Hop France by Comptoir Agricole began cultivating their homegrown hops in earnest. While France is best known for its Strisselspalt, their most recognized aroma hop in the US has been Barbe Rouge, which was released to the public in 2014.
However, Hops France released Elixir in late 2018/2019 and is a robust and complex hop that offers unique aromas of cognac, leather, and tobacco that are backed by sweet citrus fruits as well as rose flowers. Elixir is said to be well suited for darker styles but can also be incorporated into fruit-forward styles like IPAs or even spicy saisons.
UK: Harlequin (2019)
Harlequin appears to have been released by Charles Faram in 2019 from what we can gather. Its seedling was first planted in 2015, and is a daughter of Godiva. This dual-purpose hop is listed as a substitute of Mosaic, and has strong passion fruit, peach, and pineapple aromas.
Here is a video Charles Faram did that details their different varieties and the specific stages they are currently in. It is an interesting look into how farms progress hops from one stage to another as they prove more viable.
Not-So-Recent Hop Releases
Some countries just don’t produce or sell enough hops to justify the enormous cost of developing new varieties. These countries will take their time, and wait for the right hop to come around. These countries will sometimes see 5-10 years go between new hop releases, which still works well for them. New hops usually generate a ton of industry buzz and help keep the country relevant in brewing circles.
The latest hop released by South Africa appears to be XJA2/436. We found the first reference of it dating back to 2017. South Africa has a bit of a messy recent history of hop production since SAB Miller commandeered the entire market back in 2017. However, XJA2/436 (please find a better name) is a fruit-forward hop loaded with citrus, lemon zest and fruity flavors.
Poland, latest appears to be Puławski released in 2012. Created by the IUNG Institute, this hop has pungent and complex aromas that include white grapes, spices, clove and ripe papaya.
Czech Republic’s last released hop was Bohemie in 2010. Its parentage includes the Czech staple varieties Saaz and Sladek, and has a slightly spicy, hoppy aroma to it.
Slovenia’s last released hop appears to be Styrian Wolf in 2016. The Styrian Wolf hop comes to us from the Slovenian Institute for Hop Research and Brewing in Zalec, Slovenia. Slovenia’s new hop has dominant strawberry and tropical fruit flavors that go along with slight mango, spice, citrus and floral aromas.