Non-alcoholic beer has become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more people seek out alternatives to traditional alcoholic beverages. While non-alcoholic beer may not contain alcohol, they almost always contains the same ingredients as traditional beer – including hops.

But what is the purpose of hops in non-alcoholic beer?

The Role of Hops in Beer

First, it’s important to understand what hops are and why they are used in beer.

Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, and they are used primarily as a flavouring, aromatic and preservative agent across a whole type of beers. They have a bitter taste, which can help balance out the sweetness of the malts which are also a mainstay in brewing, but combined with all of the other ingredients, give you the characteristic beer taste and sensation.

In non-alcoholic beer, hops serve many of the same purposes as they do in traditional beer, with a few key differences. Here are a few of the main purposes of hops in non-alcoholic beer:

Flavour

Hops are added to non-alcoholic beer to provide a range of flavours, and depending on the variety of hops used, they can contribute notes of citrus, pine, floral, herbal, or spicy flavours – or a combination of all. These flavours are an important aspect of all beers, which are typically used according to the type of non-alcoholic beer is being brewed.

Why not check out reviews of our different types of non-alcoholic beers, such as IPAs, stouts or pilsners?

Aroma

In addition to flavour, hops also contribute to the aroma of non-alcoholic beer. More often than not, hops are responsible for your first impression of a beer – even before you taste it – and can help elevate your drinking experience before the very first sip.

Preservation

An important, but often overlooked aspect of hops is for preservation.

Alcoholic beers contain alcohol (duh!) which also acts as a preservative. In the role of non-alcoholic beer, the importance of hops for their preservation properties are dramatically increased.

Hops have natural preservative qualities, helping to extend the shelf life of non-alcoholic beer and prevent it from going sour, sedimenting or discolouring.

However, sometimes hops are not enough on their own for preservation, which may be why other ingredients are added to a brew alongside. This can sometimes be why non-alcoholic beers spoil so easily, or have a short shelf life.

Health Benefits

You are more all too aware of the health implications of drinking alcohol and alcoholic beers, but hops also have a wide range of health benefits. Remove the alcohol for non-alcoholic beers, and these health benefits are suddenly increased.

Although this is by no means medical advice, hops are known to contain a range of chemical compounds that can be beneficial to our health.

For example, some studies suggest that hops may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects due to their compounds like alpha acids, flavonoids and xanthohumol. Additionally, they contain phytoestrogens which can help to balance hormone levels and reduce menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Hops have also been traditionally used as a natural sleep aid due to their sedative effects and calming properties, and may help relieve anxiety and stress.

Emotional Connection

Hops can also contribute to the emotional connection that people have with beer. Many people associate the taste and aroma of hops with the experience of drinking beer, and including hops in non-alcoholic beer can help replicate that experience.

The Importance of Hops in Great Tasting Non-Alcoholic Beers

Just like any ‘real’ beers, hops are vital for great tasting non-alcoholic beers. They are responsible for flavour, aroma, and preservation in non-alcoholic beers, and are arguably even more important.

In alcoholic beers, we rely on the alcohol content to provide flavour, aroma and preservation, yet in non-alcoholic beers, we rely on hops to fill the gap associated with the lack of this inebriating liquid.

While non-alcoholic beer may not contain alcohol, they can still be a flavourful and enjoyable beverages that benefits from the addition of a wide-range of different hops!

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