The flower of the mighty hop plant, aka Humulus lupulus, is responsible for much of the characteristic flavour and aroma in beer—in fact, it’s pretty hard to imagine beer without it. The range of flavours derived from hops is truly remarkable. They can variously be earthy, herbal, floral, citrus, spicy, bitter, fruity, tropical, or any combination thereof.
But despite how delicious hops makes our beer, it doesn’t really show up in food too often. Thankfully, that’s changing as chefs and beer nerds alike are increasingly looking to the humble hop to give their dish a unique twist.
Here’s some of our favourite hop-flavoured foods to look out for.
So hop tea is a thing, which makes sense, since it’s green and leafy and typically boiled. There’s a lot health claims associated with it, which, quite frankly, are unscientific and super sketchy. Like the fact that it apparently prevents cancer.
Some of the claims make sense, though. Hop tea is supposed to be a stress reducer, which totally explains why I feel so relaxed after crushing six pints of Fat Tug. It’s also a diuretic, so that explains all the piss, too.
Because of hop’s antiseptic qualities, you can use a cloth soaked in hop tea to treat burns and cuts naturally. Or you could just stick to the Polysporin like a non-crazy person.
Questionable health benefits aside, if you like drinking herbal tea and you’re looking for a new cuppa, then give it a spin. HopsTea.net
Even if you’re not drinking beer, you can still have your hops. Bitters are an essential ingredient in a well-balanced cocktail, and hops work perfectly in the classic herbal tincture. Vancouver’s Bittered Sling won a silver medal at the Beverage Tasting Institute International Review of Spirits Awards for its Grapefruit & Hops bitters. The B.C.-grown hops provide a floral, herbaceous character, as well as the requisite bitterness. BitteredSling.com
Chicago-based Hop Pop Soda Co. (DrinkHopPop.com) features citrusy hops in its line of alcohol-free, caffeine free beverages, with flavours like Citra Hops and Ginger, and Citra and Galaxy Hop Blend. Closer to home, Callister Sodas (CallisterSoda.com) in East Van does a Spruce & Hops pop made with local ingredients. And if the thought drinking a hoppy beverage without alcohol in it gives you the shakes, well, Spruce & Hops makes a great mixer, too. Also, get help.
At the legendary Hamiltons Tavern in San Diego, hops aren’t only on tap, they’re in the craft beer bar’s world famous, house-made hop sausage, too. The bar’s owner apparently changes up the recipe every couple of weeks to pair with the featured cask ale of the moment—but there’s always hops in the mix, as it adds a bright, herbal kick. HamiltonsTavern.com
There are plenty of beers with chocolatey character, so this one just makes sense. Hops pair well with the natural bitterness of the cocoa bean, and can add a piney, citrus character to the chocolate. Abbotsford chocolatier, ChocolateTas, combined Lumberjack hops from the Fraser Valley with lime, and chocolate in its delicious hop caramels. If you’ve ever been to B.C. Hop Fest (back again Sept. 29, people!), then you’ve probably tried these, and you definitely love them. ChocolaTas.com
Herbs like thyme and rosemary are perfect chicken pairings, and hops can be, too! Try substituting a couple of teaspoons of hop powder in your shake-and-bake recipe and put a new twist on herb-crusted roast chicken. What’s hop powder, you ask? Just take dry hop pellets and grind them up in a coffee grinder or food processor. Remember, a little goes a long way.
- The Fall 2018 issue of The Growler is out now! You can find B.C.’s favourite craft beer guide at your local brewery, select private liquor stores, and on newsstands across the province.