Not Your Usual Noble Hops: German Hops with a Fruity Tang

Man holding green hop cones.

When you think about German beer, you’ll probably think about the noble hops and how serious — and sometimes flat — their brews can be. Americans love a little fruit and citrus in their drinks, and the newer German hops can deliver those flavors.

Mandarina Bavaria

Mandarina Bavaria is the closest thing you can get to a German Citra. The hop bursts with flavors of berries, lemon, lime, pineapple, and tangerine. It still retains mild spicy notes, but they are mostly overwhelmed by the fruity and citrusy flavors and aroma. Mandarina Bavaria works well as both a flavoring hop and a bittering hop. It produces a crisp, high-quality bitterness that you can use with almost any of your brews. These hops are more suited for extended dry hopping (10-12 days), especially if you want more prominent citrusy and fruity notes.

Sapphire

Sapphire/Sappir/Hallertau Saphir traces its roots to the noble hops, retaining some of the spicy notes usually attributed to traditional German hops. Sapphire brews will still have the extra hoppiness you typically find during Oktoberfest. However, these hops have a certain sweetness, with tones of berry and light citrus. Sapphire works well as an aroma hop, providing a hint of the traditional noble hop spiciness, mixed with its other fruity characteristics. Use it with strong flavoring hops like Citra or more complex hops like Idaho or Simcoe.

Hallertau Blanc

Hallertau Blanc has a similar profile to New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc. Both produce wine-like flavors, and while Sauvignon Blanc is sweeter, Hallertau Blanc has more prominent and distinct fruit flavors. Hallertau Blanc produces brews that are more akin to wine than beer — at least in taste. Grapes, grapefruit, and hints of lemongrass dominate its flavors, with tones of cassis and elderflower mixed in. Hallertau Blanc is very aromatic, even more so than its Kiwi counterpart, producing intense floral and citrus aromas.

Polaris

Like the name hints at, Polaris hops produce very distinct minty (menthol) and sometimes peppermint flavors. It still retains mild spice and pine notes reminiscent of most German hops, but its flavors are dominated by the strong minty flavors mixed along with citrus and floral notes similar to Cascade. Polaris can also be used as a bittering hop, adding a little bit of mint to your IPAs and pale ales.

Huell Melon

planted hops

Huell Melon is a relatively new hop variety made from mixing German hops with the American Cascade. The product is a hop that is more American than German. Huell Melon has very little of the spice tones associated with German hops. Instead, it is overwhelmingly fruity. Its flavors are dominated by melon (honeydew?), strawberries, orange, and apricot, with traces of vanilla and geranium. Huell Melon can be used in flavoring or solely as a bittering hop or aromatic hop. It works well with Saisons, Belgian ales, and IPAs.

Fruity and citrusy hops are taking over the world. Even in Germany, where traditional noble hops still rule, newer hops are slowly rising to prominence and may soon lay their claim to the throne.