Recently, it was suggested that the trend toward overly hopped beers is discouraging new beer drinkers. The amount of bitterness that hops lend to beer, whether it be on a grassy and earthy hop or more citrus-focused, can be a bit of a challenge for those who aren't used to it. You could say it's an acquired taste but some people may never really "acquire" it.
However, that doesn't mean that beer is completely off the table for those drinkers. There are plenty of beers that feature either a very low amount of hops or no hops at all. Many ancient styles of beer have been around even longer than hops.
Interestingly enough, many of these styles are seeing a bit of a resurgence. Perhaps this is because brewers are trying to back away from using too much hops or drinkers are rediscovering them and demanding them. Either way, they're becoming more available.
For those drinkers who'd like a break from hops, we've picked out seven beers that you should find and drink now!
Choc Beer Gose
Choc Beer Co., Krebs, Okla.
A style that's experienced a bit of a revival of late, the gose (pronounced goh-zah) is a wheat beer made up of more than 50 percent malted wheat. This delivers a crisp flavor but the coriander seeds and salt that are also added to the brew create a very unique combination of flavors. Saltiness meets tart lemon in this interpretation of the style. It's a tasty brew with no more than a hint of hop bitterness. The Choc Beer interpretation matches up perfectly with the style, providing a nice, drinkable, and non-hoppy selection.
Mad Scientists #13
Sixpoint Brewery, Brooklyn, N.Y.
This is an ancient ale, reminiscent of how beers were likely brewed in the Middle Ages. Concocted from mostly herbs, spices, and a variety of berries, this tends to be a sweet but herbal brew with no sign of hops. Sixpoint reinvented the brew for their Mad Scientists series earlier this year. The brewers used a mix of wheat and rye along with smoked malt (a malt with a bit of a roasted character to it) to create their gruitbeer. The resulting beer showed similarities to an herbal tea but also has a nice fruitiness to it.
Bold City Brewery, Jacksonville, Fla.
A traditional German beer style made primarily with wheat, the hefeweizen is crafted from a combination of 50 percent (or more) wheat and a yeast that brings aromas of clove and banana. There may be a mild hoppy bitterness to the beer but it's mostly undetectable. Bold City makes the Fritz's Hefeweizen in honor of the owners' German heritage. This particular interpretation features both the clove and banana flavors as well as a wheaty backbone to balance.
Anchorage Brewing Co., Anchorage, Alaska
The Belgians also made their own high-level wheat beer called witbier. But their style also included a few spices that German brewers weren't adding. The Belgians used orange peel, coriander and a few other extra ingredients. These extras add a tangy and spicy note to the crisp wheat brew. Anchorage Brewing follows the Belgian style pretty closely. The flavor includes tart lemons as well as a bit of peppercorn. It's a refreshing brew for a summer day.
Surly Brewing Co., Brooklyn Center, Minn.
Style: Helles Lager
Another German style, this one originated in Munich and features only the mildest hint of hops. This is a very balanced beer with a malt-forward flavor. Surly
Brewing sticks pretty close to the original recipe, honoring their own German heritage. It's unfiltered which makes it a little cloudy but don't let that scare you — this is a great beer for people who'd prefer a little less hoppiness in their brew.
Kriek Mariage Parfait
Brouwerij Boon, Belgium
Style: Fruited Lambic
A very intensely fruit-flavored brew, the lambic is another old-style ale. Typically, whole fruits are added to the brew after fermentation has begun lending a very fruity sweet character and maybe even a touch of tart. Boon's Kriek is an excellent example — and possibly one of the most popular. The brewery uses overripe cherries and the resulting brew is aged in oak barrels for a year before it's bottled.
Old #38 Stout
North Coast Brewing Co., Fort Bragg, Calif.
Style: Dry Irish Stout
An old standby, the dry Irish stout is definitely the original non-hoppy beer. With a heavy malt character and low carbonation, the beer has a roasty, almost coffee-like aroma and the flavor is equally roasted with a mild bit of sweetness. The Old #38 follows the tradition and also features a somewhat light and drinkable body. The roasted barley and malt lend that coffee character that makes this a very tasty brew.