Hop-growing regions get the bulk of attention from beer drinkers and brewers: the fields in Germany, home to many traditional noble hop varieties, and the Pacific Northwest, where many hops can grow successfully.
These popular production areas harvest during August and September, the Northern Hemisphere’s fall season. But, turn toward the other side of the axis, and many notable countries are picking their grains in March and April—and they have a notable flavor profile all.
The overall growth of the Southern Hemisphere hop market has led to more Northern Hemisphere brewers, predominantly in the United States, using these specific hop clones in their beers.
Its popularity has even bred several official categories, including Australian Pale Ale, New Zealand Pale Ale, and New Zealand-style India Pale Ale. The defining quality of these beers is the heavy or near-exclusive use of Southern Hemisphere hops grown from those island nations.
In 2021 Hops Products Australia said it’s collective harvested 1,526 metric tons of hops, a 6.9% increase from the previous year. “We’re excited to share that this marks 11 years of continuous growth,” the group noted.
There is an increasing fascination with Southern Hemisphere hops among US breweries; they’re drawn to the aromas and flavors of citrus, stone, and tropical fruits commonly associated with white wines. Because of the nature of these hops and the suitability for India-style Pale Ale, that is where most of the hops seem to wind up, style-wise. But as the interest and market expand, hops from Australia and New Zealand will also start to pop up in lagers and stouts.
Dust Bowl East of Nelson; $16/ 16oz 4 pack, 94 Points. The brewery calls this a New Zealand-style IPA, and the hops are present as white stone fruit with some tropical undertones. There’s a bit of earthy funk as well, and altogether it works as a solid package of southern hemisphere hops and northern hemisphere know-how. Two pints of this set you up at the airport before the long haul to Auckland. —J.H.
Societe The Pupil; $14/12oz 6 pack, 92 Points. With a full, almost creamy mouthfeel, this IPA takes a few moments and sips for the hops to emerge fully. When they do, it’s delightful with mango and other tropical fruits, having a jaunty little time in the background. A bit of hop funkiness keeps it all in check, and a slightly bitter finish keeps the hops top of mind on the palate. This is a playful IPA that uses the hops well. —J.H.
Alvarado Street Mai Tai IPA; $17/16oz 4 pack, 91 Points. The name is apt on this IPA as it has many of the tropical notes one would require on the name, including a coconut oil-like flavor at the end of each sip. It’s not heavy, and the hop bitterness keeps some of the sweetness in check. Vanilla, orange, a little lime, and some cedar undertones are enjoyable components of a well-constructed IPA. —J.H.
Metazoa Brewing DDH Hoppototamus – NZ; $14/16oz 4 pack,89 Points. Vibrant aromas of tropical fruits burst from the glass after pouring. Bronze with a slight chill haze and a low head that laces the glass, bits of orange peel emerge on the palate with the addition of guava. Smooth-bodied with little bitterness, this IPA has a lot of southern hemisphere charm. —J.H.
Peculier Thiolpile; $24/16oz 4 pack, 88 Points. Many white stone-fruit aromas come from the southern hemisphere hops used in this beer. Apricots and peaches are dominant but don’t overwhelm. Fuzzy bits of fruit skin on a prickly and assertive body does a good job of masking the high alcohol content. A big hazy double IPA for the days that call for a proper unwind. —J.H.
Alvarado Street Land & Sea XPA; $14/ 12oz 6 pack, 87 Points. A collaboration with a local soccer team, this IPA plays into the white wine characteristics of the Nelson Sauvin hops. It’s a moderate IPA whose easy drinkability makes it perfect for watching a match or a few pints after getting off the pitch. —J.H.
Crooked Stave Juicy East; $16/ 12oz 6 pack, 95 Points. Light and easy drinking and chock full of hops, this IPA has a lot of West Coast and international callbacks with its hop profile but new-age swing with tropical fruit and zesty lime. A thirst-quenching IPA with a touch of bitterness on the finish, this one grabs the taste bud’s attention and holds it. —J.H.