When talking about craft beer, it’s inevitable that hops come into the conversation. Hops have been around in the brewing industry for forever (no, really, like hundreds of years), but have become more and more nuanced as the industry has exploded. We’re here to explain the difference between some of our favorite varieties: Amarillo and Citra hops!
Hops are to beer what grapes are to wine. They affect the entire identity of a beer. While growing, they are sensitive to everything from sunlight to soil consistency, similarly to how grapes are affected by the terroir they grow in.
When added to beer, the first flavor that comes to mind when thinking about hops is bitterness, but that isn’t the only thing hops are used for. Depending on how the variety used in the brewing process, they can impart citrus, fruity, and floral aromas and flavors, along with bitterness.
Here at Omaha Brewing Company, two of our favorite hops are Amarillo and Citra. While both hops can be used to achieve citrusy, orange-peel notes, there are notable differences between the two.
The Amarillo hop, which we use heavily in our Hannahatchee Creek IPA, is special because it can be used dually as an aroma/flavoring hop as well as a bittering hop. It is distinctly flowery and tropical, adding orange and lemon flavors during the brewing process.
But what does that mean, exactly? We use Amarillo during the brewing process in the boil to achieve various flavors (Adding hops at different times during the boil affects this as well), as well as post fermentation to “Dry-Hop” the beer to add aroma. Although this hop can potentially provide intense bitterness, we ensure we add the proper amount and the right time to reach a low “perceived bitterness”, yet still bring out the sharp orange-peel flavors our IPA is known for.
More information about Amarillo hops: Craft Beer Academy
The Citra hop is one of the most popular aroma/flavoring hops out there. We use it in our 5.56 Dry-Hopped Lager, to create a sessionable spring lager. Citra bestows delicious fruity flavors (think orange, lychee, and grapefruit), as well as tropical notes.
Using Citra gives an inherent drinkability to a brew. It isn’t commonly used as a bittering hop. When dry-hopped, like in the 5.56, Citra is especially aromatic without adding too much bitterness. It’s fruity flavor-profile creates a refreshing beer, great for springtime!
More information about Citra hops: Kegerator.com
Though the two hops both create fruity notes in a beer, they have distinct differences, particularly in their uses. One thing Amarillo and Citra have in common: they are perfect for creating delicious craft beer!