Hops have long been relegated to the ID-required section of the grocery store. Now, with the rise of hop water, they have finally received the recognition they deserve as a naturally flavorful ingredient all on their own. Hop-infused water is as suited to craft beer fans looking to skip out on alcohol as it is for anyone in search of some tasty hydration.
Is hop water another trendy beverage? And how is it different from the sparking waters filling grocery store shelves? Read on to learn everything you need to know about this bubbly drink?
What is hop water?
Hop water comes in many variations from the straightforward to the fruit accented, and even a few punched up with adaptogens. However, at it’s core hop water is simply water that’s been infused with hops and then carbonated.
Most hop waters are made by cold steeping hops in water before carbonating it. This infusion method encourages the extraction of the bright fruity, zesty pine and complex herbal qualities of the hops while leaving behind the compounds that can make drinks (like craft beer) bitter. Some companies also add fruit flavors like blood orange (like Lagunitas Hoppy Refreshers) or berry (Ufloric from Loan Tree Brewing).
Most hop waters are unsweetened and have fewer than 5 calories making them a healthy source of hydration. Some brands make health claims beyond that by adding ingredients like adaptogens and nootropics. For example, Hop WTR adds ingredients including vitamin C and ashwagandha which they claim improve performance. L-theanine, also known as tea extract, is added to Bravus Focus hop water to increase focus. However the actual effects of these additives are hard to measure and up for debate.
What does hop water taste like?
Hops are the cones of a vine-like plant. Given their origins hops flavor profiles range from herbal and grassy to pungent and piney and even fruity and tropical. Different varieties of hop plants will have different combinations of these flavors. Popular hop varieties for hop water include floral-citrusy Mosaic hops, tropical-fruity Amarillo hops, and melony-grapefruit Citra hops. Similar to the wide assortment of flavors in green tea, hops add a pleasant fresh, botanical note to the snap of carbonation in sparkling water.
And, again similar to tea, brands sometimes add additional ingredients to enhance the natural flavor of the hops. Other botanicals like spicy ginger as well as fruit essences or tea itself are used in combination with hops to intensify the perceivable flavors.
Generally, I find that hop waters taste like a refreshing seltzer with a vibrant botanical edge and fresh notes of forest and citrus peel. If there is any bitterness it is very subtle and acts to balance the other flavors in the drink rather than impose a bitter aftertaste.
The Best Hop Waters to Try
Many of the best hop waters come from places that have access to the best hopsaka craft breweries! Check to see what your local brewery has to offer or look for some of my recommendations at the store.
Sierra Nevada Hop Splash
I found this hop water to be the most approachable of the bunch. It has a well-defined hop character but is not heavy handed with the notes of peach, mango, and grapefruit from Citra and Amarillo hops. It finishes very clean without an aftertaste which made me want to keep on sipping. I found this hop water to be the perfect thirst quencher after a run and also great for an outdoor picnic, hoppy yet balanced and delicious.
Bravus Brewing Focus Sparkling Hop Water
This hop water is accented with ginger and lemon. These additional flavors add a crisp brightness that really helps the hops to sing. I found the flavor combination invigorating without being overpowering, it was my favorite flavored hop water. Bravus claims that the addition of tea extracts including L-theanine leads to enhanced focus after drinking this hop water. I didn’t notice this effect but I did notice the great taste.
Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher
For those craving variety in their hydration, Lagunitas makes a great hop water mix pack. Blood orange and berry lemon flavors come alongside the pure hop water and each one has its own merits. The blood orange (my favorite) is all tangy citrus brightness, while the berry lemon strikes the balance between herbal hops and fruity notes, then, of course, the classic is the most hop-forward with herbal grapefruit peel and subtle mango character. Each hop water has a complex aroma with the flavor in each sip to back it up.
Hoplark Sparkling Hop Tea
In a natural twist on adding flavor to hop water, Hoplark uses organic teas to complement the hoppiness in their beverages. “The Green One” combines Mosaic hops and Imperial green tea for a grassy, herbal sparkler that will appeal to hop heads and tea drinkers alike. Hoplark has other offerings that are intensely hoppy for those IPA lovers that really want a can of hop cones, too.
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