Raise your glasses and down those beers; Oktoberfest is only a few days away. Noble hops have traditionally been the star of this celebration, but newer German hops are making a name for themselves.
Barely retaining the spicy notes of its noble lineage, Mandarina Bavaria’s berry, lemon, lime, and tangerine flavors more closely resemble those of American hops. It is bursting with citrusy and fruity flavors and aromas — often likened to that of the USA’s Citra or Australia’s Galaxy. It is a multipurpose hop that is excellent for every brewing process. It produces distinct flavors when used as a flavor hop, crisp bitterness when used as a bittering hop, and intense citrusy aromas with hints of nobility when used as an aromatic. Mandarina Bavaria is slowly becoming one of Germany’s most popular hops, but you can still find them for sale in US stores or online.
Don’t let the name fool you. Hallertau Blanc bears little resemblance to the noble Hallertau. It evokes wine-like flavors more similar to New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin. Strong tones of grapes, grapefruit, and lemongrass mix with milder notes of cassis and elderflower. It is more aromatic and has more pronounced fruit flavors compared to Nelson Sauvin, although the Kiwi hop is noticeably sweeter.
A mix of noble varieties and Cascade, Huell Melon is more American than German in its flavor profile. While it retains traces of the spice and earthy tones most commonly associated with noble hops, flavors of citrus and fruit are more prominent. Like its name suggests, honeydew melon is its most distinctive flavor, followed by strawberries, oranges, and traces of vanilla. Huell Melon is a multipurpose hop that works well for Saisons, Belgian ales, and the usual IPAs.
Something to cool you down when things get hot, Polaris can create brews that are both fruity and minty. It is bursting with intense mint flavors (resembling Fox’s Glacier Mints?) along with citrusy and floral notes. It adds this menthol-like flavoring when used as a bittering hop, so make sure you pair it with a strong flavoring hop. Polaris works well for single-hop brews, retaining most of its flavors and characteristics when used in every stage of the brewing process or with a neutral bittering hop. Use it for ales, pale ales, and stouts.
If you want something different to throw a curveball to your patrons, Taurus is your best bet. This German hop produces distinct flavors of bananas, chocolate, spice, and curry — lunch and dessert all in one drink. While its flavor combination is undoubtedly unique, another feature of Taurus is its nutritional value. It has antioxidants that are 200 times more potent compared to those in wine, and lab tests in Oregon proved it lowered cholesterol and blood sugar. So you’re not just brewing beer; you’re brewing a health drink.
There might be a changing of the guard come Oktoberfest. Celebrate the festival of beer with traditional noble hops along with newer and more flavorful German hops.