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Our Take On Hops-Free Beer

From The Iron Horse Brewery Blog

Our Take On Hops-Free Beer


You may have seen the New York Times article last week about a scientist coming up with a process to brew beer without hops.

Hops are one of the main ingredients in beer along with water, yeast and grain (mostly malted barley). At IHB we make an annual trip to Yakima, the hops capital of the world, to tantalize our nose buds as we go through a hop selection process. We think hops are kind of important to beer.

IHB visiting Hopsteiner in 2017.


Essentially the article says a scientist guy at the University of California, Berkeley is proposing that a type of plant molecule could impart the taste of hops, and he actually brewed a hops-free ale.

We talked with two of our brewers to see what they think of the idea of hops-free beer.

If you haven’t read the original article you can check it out here for the full explanation on how he made the beer.

Our thoughts on the article:

Well, we could technically bio/chemical engineer beer.  It would save a lot of water and quite a bit of work but is it still beer?  Part of the product is the process and I don’t think that will ever change significantly.  I could see this being a novel thing to try or even incorporate (like hop extracts) but I doubt it will ever take over the process.  Hop farming is definitely not slowing down the craft industry. There is no hop shortage, the ‘shortage’ is a result of over-contracting but that doesn’t create an actual shortage as secondary markets flood with excess/overpriced hops.” — Tyson


“It’s very exciting that you could brew a beer without hops. Hops are one of the most expensive things that you put into a beer and using less could be a great thing for small and big breweries. One thing that would be interesting is hops are a natural bacteria fighter and without them you may have to have a more strict QC process and monitor it very carefully.  One thing I don’t agree with is the presumption that there is a hop shortage. Go onto lupulin exchange and take a peek at what is going on. Breweries are over contracted and having to sell a lot of hops.” — Jake


Would you drink beer without hops if it produced the same taste?


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Joe Cooper Jr.
November 4, 2019 1:58 pm

I am looking for a hop free beer since hops are powerful phytoestrogens.

November 17, 2019 8:41 pm

While I was looking for a hop free beer because I just learned I’m alergic to hops. I discovered that an alcoholic beverage called “gruit” is the closest thing. One of the best is called “Scottish Gruit, Ancient Herbed Ale.”

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