No hop can compete with the fruity and citrusy flavors of Citra. However, there are hops with distinct and overwhelming fruitiness that can claim to be a close second to the king. Across the globe, fruity hops are becoming the next big thing — and there are some standouts.
Strata and Amarillo — U.S.
American hops are known for their fruity flavors. Of the 4 C’s of modern craft brewing — the fruitier and more flavorful Cascade and Centennial opened the eyes and palates of many Americans. The two have stood the test of time, while the piney Chinook and tea-like Columbia fell by the wayside. Newer hops like Strata and Amarillo build on the legacy of Cascade and Centennial.
Strata hops produce notes of complex tropical fruit. Mango and passion fruit blend with melon and strawberry — with hints of grapefruit and cannabis-like herbal notes. Strata is cleaner than most hops. It has none of the dill or strong dank notes that accompany a lot of brews. Although Strata’s flavors explode in your mouth, it also leaves very little aftertaste — allowing you to partake in more brews without clouding your taste buds.
Amarillo is quite similar to Cascade. The two share common notes but Amarillo’s is significantly more pronounced. Flavors of orange and lemon are highlighted by hints of spice and floral notes. Amarillo is a great substitute for Citra if you want a softer brew with the same citrusy goodness. Both Strata and Amarillo are easily available in your local brew stores or online shops.
Galaxy — Australia
Galaxy is one of Citra’s biggest rivals. The Australian hop might not be as citrusy as Citra — however, it makes up for it in fruitiness. Thousands upon thousands agree as Galaxy is the most successful foreign hop to be sold in the US. It is also making its mark in Europe and Asia. Galaxy is all fruit with none of the floral, herbal, or spice notes of most hops. It produces distinct and strong peach notes, with a little bit of pineapple and tropical fruit.
Brews are cleaner and more flavorful compared to Citra. Citrusy flavors can dominate a brew — especially for individuals new to the craft beer experience. Galaxy serves as a great gateway. It delivers strong pleasing flavors without the harshness of strong citrus. Australia exports tons of Galaxy, so you shouldn’t have problems finding it in retail stores or online shops.
Motueka — New Zealand
In the brewing world, New Zealand is more known for its wine-like Nelson Sauvin — however, don’t give Motueka the cold shoulder. In terms of flavor, it offers more complex notes. Bursts of lemon and lime will have you thinking of mojitos. While not coming close to the levels of Citra, its flavors of lemon and lime are quite strong and distinct. Undertones of floral and spice are hidden beneath the citrus flavors, enhancing and not confusing the brew.
Motueka can be used for bittering, producing clean and smooth bitterness. New Zealand produces limited amounts of Motueka. Finding it in your local brewing stores might be difficult, but online stores will usually have a few of them around.
Mandarina Bavaria — Germany
Germans have broken away from their dull traditional hops. Their new focus on flavor has led to the creation of one of their most American-like hop, the Mandarina Bavaria. Unlike noble hops, with their dominant spice, herb, or earth tones — Mandarina Bavaria’s flavors are dominated by fruit and citrus. It produces strong notes of Mandarin orange with hints of strawberry, lemon, pineapple, and lime. You should have no problems finding it online, but it might not be popular enough for local brew stores.
Harlequin — UK
It’s no joke, the UK has grown a fruity hop with Harlequin. Word plays aside, Harlequin is a serious contender for the title of fruitiest hop. It produces strong notes of peach, passion fruit, and pineapple that can hit you like a hammer — while retaining hints of the usual English elegance with characters of spice and floral tones.
Harlequin goes both ways, working well in flavoring and bittering. It produces crisp and smooth bitterness, perfect for lagers and IPAs. Harlequin hasn’t undergone mass production just yet. It might be difficult finding it online — so make sure to grab them when available.
The brewing world has gone fruity. While there is still only one king in Citra, its entourage of fruity hops vying for the top spot is constantly growing.