Hop to It: Your favorite flower, explained

Some things just go together, like dive bars and ski bums, spring days and one-piece ski suits. We’ve applied that philosophy to this year’s Beer Guide, pairing 18 craft beers from around the country with how best to enjoy them—whether that’s hydrating throughout the day or being the guy who takes an Uber home from the tailgate. We’ve considered flavor, ABV, packability and skintrack cred to present the hoppiest, headiest and most satisfying beers—and how to fully drink them up.

When brewers talk hops, they’re referring to the flowering cone on the plant Humulus Lupulus, a perennial vine. Hops are dried and added to beers for flavor and stability, and overtime they’ve been cultivated to create a range of tastes. Here’s a rundown of popular U.S. varieties.

The bitter bud. [Photo] Paul Miller

Cascade: The first American-bred hop was used for brewing in the early 1970s. To this day, it’s the most commonly grown hop and has a flowery, slightly grapefruit characteristic. Used in porters and pale ales.

Chinook: Known for its spicy and strong piney flavor, the Chinook hop was released in Washington and Idaho in the spring of 1985. Used in most beers, from lagers to pale ales.

Amarillo: This hardy variety of hops can be used as a substitute for Cascade hops, as it has a similar citrusy, flowery flavor without too much bitterness. Used in IPAs and ales.

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