While hops have long been a key ingredient in traditional beer production, a newer product—hop water—features this natural ingredient in a new, generally lighter style—without sugary grains or yeast. Light and sparkling, hop waters are naturally alcohol-free, gluten-free, and zero calories, and feature the natural herbal flavors of the hops themselves. A refreshing alternative to NA beers—and a category unto itself—hop water is suddenly showing up everywhere in a variety of forms and flavors.
While there are references to “hop water” dating back to 2005, when it was studied as a seasonal allergy remedy in Japan, craft-brewed sparkling hop water was first brought to market in the U.S. under the brand H2OPS which was launched in 2014 by Paul Tecker who was looking to moderate his beer consumption and was seeking a hoppy flavor that could be enjoyed anytime and anywhere.
Today the hop water category has expanded to include a variety of choices including hop teas and infused sparkling waters, making for an exciting category. Each brand employs its own style choices and processes ensuring that no two hop waters are the same. Such choices include the varieties and flavor profiles of the hops chosen, whether the hops are brewed to achieve a more hoppy flavor, whether the whole hop is included, and what other flavors, oils, or extracts—if any—are added to the beverage.
In a category with a relatively simple concept, these nuances in production can result in big differences in flavor, mouthfeel and overall product profiles. We recommend you try them all!
See below for some of the nationally available brands of hop water to help you choose one that will satisfy your thirst for hops.
Did you know? There are more than 100 varieties of hops and all have different flavor notes and profiles. The cones of the female hop plant have been used in brewing for 1,200 years. Hop varieties are categorized as either “aroma hops” or “bittering hops.” Before the craft-beer revolution, bittering hops were used in beer-making to add a balancing, bitter note to the sweetness of the malt. Today, aroma hops are prized by craft brewers for their complex flavors. Flavor notes of different varieties include fruit, spice, herbal, citrus, “dank,” and grass. Some even compare the flavors to cannabis, which is in the same family of plants, yet hops do not contain THC or CBD.