Hops From a Land Down Under: New Zealander and Australian Hops Invade America

Beer Reviews

Seeking out the best in malty, hoppy refreshment.


[Photograph: Mike Reis]

American beer geeks have consistently worshiped the iconic hops of the Pacific Northwest: the grapefruity Cascade, the orangey Amarillo, the resinous Columbus. This obsession will likely continue into infinity, and newer hops like Citra and Simcoe are only aiding the Northwestern-Yakiman empire with their powerful, distinctive flavor profiles.

But there's a recent trend in American craft beer that bears acknowledgement: the growing popularity of Southern Hemisphere hop varieties. As recently-harvested hops from Australia and New Zealand's 2012 crop start to find their way into stateside beers, here are a few Southern Hemisphere hops you should know.

Nelson Sauvin

Perhaps the most popular of the Southern Hemisphere hops is New Zealand's Nelson Sauvin, so named for its similarity in flavor to Sauvignon Blanc wine grapes. Passion fruit, gooseberry, peach, and lime flavors abound.

Commercial Beers with Nelson Sauvin: Used in Mikkeller's excellent Nelson Sauvin Brut, Anchor's Humming Ale, New Belgium's Shift, 8 Wired's Hopwired IPA and Saison Sauvin, and by bigger guys Samuel Adams (in Griffin's Bow Barleywine) and Schneider (Mein Nelson Sauvin), these peachy hops have found success on all levels of the craft beer scene.


Right on the tail of Nelson Sauvin is Australia's Galaxy. Similarly tropical, Galaxy expresses itself with aromas akin to passion fruit and citrus.

Commercial Beers with Galaxy: RateBeer's top new brewer in the world for 2012, Anchorage Brewing Company, has created a Brettanomyces-tinged masterpiece with its Galaxy White IPA, and Widmer and Sam Adams have jumped into the fray with their Galaxy-hopped Barleywine and Tasman Red, respectively.

Southern Cross

Primarily used as a bittering hop (meaning it's added early in the boil, more for bitterness than for flavor), Southern Cross has pleasant spice and lemon characteristics that serve to add depth when added later in the boil.

Commercial Beers with Southern Cross: Used prominently in Sierra Nevada's recently-released Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, these hops are also featured in 8 Wired's Hopwired IPA.


Also known as B Saaz, there's a clear connection between Motueka and its closest relative, the Czech Saaz hop. Similarly spicy, Motueka is decidedly more citrusy and bright than Czech Saaz hops.

Commercial Beers with Motueka: Featured as an aroma hop in Sierra Nevada's Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale, this hop is also used to complement Nelson Sauvin in 8 Wired's Saison Sauvin and Hopwired IPA.

Pacific Jade

Another Saaz relative, Pacific Jade is prized for its peppery, lemony flavor and versatility as both an aroma and bittering hop.

Commercial Beers with Pacific Jade: Use of this hop has primarily been restricted to New Zealand breweries, found in 8 Wired's Rewired Brown Ale and the Yeastie Boys Digital IPA, but look for it popping up in more and more American beers coming soon. Drake's Aroma Prieta, set to release July 28th, features the hop alongside a whole slew of Southern Hemisphere hops, like Nelson Sauvin, Motueka and Helga.

New and Upcoming Beers featuring NZ and Aussie Hops:

Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale Made exclusively with hops picked, dried, and packed from the April hop harvest, Southern Hemisphere Harvest is a popular yearly brew featuring Motueka and Southern Cross hops for flavor and aroma and Pacific Hallertau (aka Pacifica) for bittering. It has a spicy, tart aroma with with flavors of blood orange, citrus peel, earth, tarragon, spice and pine. Medium-bodied with a dry, chalky finish, this beer is an interesting departure from the booming tropical fruit bombs have made New Zealand hops so famous.

8 Wired Fresh Hopwired A wet-hopped version of their popular Hopwired IPA, Fresh Hopwired offers a different take on an already excellent beer. Southern Cross, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin hops produce a flavor profile of jasmine, lime, mango, basil and passion fruit with a long, bitter finish.

Drake's Aroma Prieta Slated for a San Francisco Bay Area release July 28th, Aroma Prieta is Drake's Brewing's down-under riff on their successful Aroma Coma IPA. The hops from Aroma Coma are replaced entirely with Nelson Sauvin, Pacific Jade, Motueka and Australian hop Helga.

Anchor's Humming Ale For a wider release, seek Anchor Brewing's Summer seasonal, Humming Ale. It's a fairly straight forward pale ale hopped with Nelson Sauvin.

Have you tried any beers made with Australian or New Zealand hops lately? Add your recommendations to the comments!