We are often asked “What are the most popular hops to use?“, and while it is a loaded question that needs qualifiers on beer style, location and personal preference, it is one that can be answered wholistically.
We’ve done analysis before on this sort of topic:
- The most popular hops for use in an IPA
- The most popular hops by country
- The most popular new hops
- The most popular hops to grow at home
- The most intense aroma hops on the market
To jumpstart our analysis to find the most popular hops in use today, we used Beer-Analytics.com. Beer Analytics created this data by analyzing over 350,000 recipes sourced from the BrewersFriend and BeerSmith databases. We used October 2020 data to generate all reports.
It is important to note that this analysis was done on home brewing recipes posted on public websites. While this does not show the popularity based on commercial examples, it is known that many home brew recipes attempt to clone popular brews.
The Most Used Hops Overall
Here we look at what are the most popular hops used in recipes today, regardless of addition type.
Right off the bat, you can see that this list is very reflective of the most popular beer style on the market today. The three “C” hops, Mosaic and Simcoe are almost exclusively used in IPAs. In fact, all but the Saaz hop are commonly used in American-Style India Pale Ale recipes.
Citra and Cascade are neck-and-neck at the top, with both being used in over 15% of all recipes searched. This is not surprising. Over the last decade, Citra has become the preeminent hop used in IPAs, while Cascade is forever intertwined with the beer that launched IPA into stardom.
|Hop||In Recipe %|
The Most Used Bittering Hops
Bittering hops are all used within the start of the boil.
Magnum has quickly become the bittering hop of choice for many home brewers. It works great with all beer styles and adds a very restrained and smooth bitterness.
Citra will always be a popular bittering hop due to its overall popularity and dual-use capabilities, but for me, I stay away from it. I’d prefer to relegate this expensive hop to the late additions where its citrus and grapefruit characters can shine through.
Interestingly enough, two bittering hops on this list – Saaz and Hallertau Mittelfruh – are in fact aroma varieties. They are commonly used in English style beers that don’t require a lot of bitterness such as
I also believe that Columbus would be much higher on this list if it was combined with Zeus and Tomahawk under the grouping of CTZ. Regardless, CTZ hops are not my favorite bittering hop anyway. They tend to add a sharp bite of bitterness that really dominates the beer.
|Hop||Purpose||AA% Range||In Recipe %|
|Cascade||Dual||5 – 9%||12.0%|
|Magnum||Bittering||10 – 16%||9.4%|
|Citra||Dual||10 – 15%||8.1%|
|East Kent Golding||Bittering||4 – 6.5%||7.9%|
|Saaz||Aroma||3 – 4.5%||7.2%|
|Centennial||Dual||7 – 12%||6.8%|
|Hallertau Mittelfrüh||Aroma||3 – 5.5%||6.5%|
|Columbus||Dual||14 – 18%||6.0%|
The Most Used Aroma Hops
Aroma hops are all used late in the boil and during the whirlpool additions.
What this list indicates is that there is a much wider variety of hops used in aroma additions than with bittering. The most used aroma hop is unsurprisingly Citra, but it only is used in 8.9% of all recipes. This list is also very representative of the IPA-style of beers except for Saaz. Saaz hops are primarily used in the production of Czech-style lagers due to its noble qualities.
|Hop||In Recipe %|
The Most Used Hops for Dry Hopping
Dry hopping is considered an aroma addition, but Beer Analytics decided to break it out into its own graph. We agree: as IPAs have become more-and-more popular, dry hopping has as well.
Again, we see this list lean heavily towards the hops used in IPAs. However, in this case it isn’t as much due to the style’s popularity as it is with the fact that only IPAs do it with any sort of regularity. Sure, there are dry hopped lagers and pilsners, but even those use IPA style hops.
This list is not surprising at all, and to be honest, depending on the month, many of these hops may move up and down the list. I do not know this for certain, but I would guess that this list’s percentages are not only looking at recipes performing a dry hop. What it likely means is that 9.7% of all beer recipes dry hop with Citra.
There is little doubt that Galaxy is a popular aroma hop, however I’m skeptical of its place in this and the prior list. Commercially this hop is popular, but it has to be one of the most substituted hops on the market today. Galaxy hops regularly retail for almost double some US-bred aroma varieties, and has been on short supply since 2017.
Also of note: El Dorado finally makes an appearance on this page. This is likely due in part to the uber-popular Weldwerks Brewing Juicy Bits home brew recipe that was published on Craft Beer & Brewing back in 2017. In fact, you can actually see a slight tick up in the graph starting with that year.