What are beer hops?

Beer hops, or hops, are cone-shaped flowers that come from the hop plant ‘Humulus Lupulus’ and are grown worldwide, producing a wide variety of hops to create great beer! Here in Kent, we are lucky to be surrounded by hop gardens and have generated special relationships with our local hop growers.

Hops come from the same plant family as the cannabis plant; however, the alcohol comes from the brewing process rather than the flowers themselves!

Hops play a key part in creating a beer's flavour, bitterness and aroma and the timing of when hops are added to the brewing process, which affects the beer's flavour.

Hop varieties

Like grapes, many varieties of hops are grown worldwide, with different types used for particular beer styles. Also, as with grapes, hops can be defined in two categories, old world and new world.

Old-world varieties of hop are from Europe, having been cultivated for centuries and tend to have more subtle aromas and bitterness.

New world hops are more recent varieties, with many grown in the Americas, with bigger, bolder flavours and aromas.  British hop growers are able to grow hybrids of these modern varieties that have been adapted to local weather conditions and soil content.

Before hops can be used in brewing, they are usually dried in an oast house; many of these traditional distinct buildings can be seen around Kent and East Sussex.

At Cellar Head, we use some of the finest English-grown hops, sourced as locally as we can, and also high-quality hops from around the world.

Subtle or bold flavour?

Hops play an integral part in the flavour of a beer. The blend of hop varieties used and the time when hops are added in the brewing process affect a beer's bitterness and overall flavour. 

The chemical composition of hops is responsible for the character of the beer they help to produce.

Alpha acids are responsible for the bitter taste of beer. 

Beta acids within the hops contribute to the aroma of beer.

The individual essential oils in each variety of hop generate unique flavours, and extra hops can be added to the brewing process for more flavour without adding bitterness.

For more bitterness in a beer, hops are added earlier in the process, whereas adding the hops later in the brewing process will create bigger and bolder aromas.


Hops have been used in beer for around a thousand years. Historically, other herb and flower combinations were used, such as dandelions, ivy and heather, until it was discovered that beers made from hops tended to last longer. 

Hops have antibacterial properties that counteract the undesirable actions of microorganisms, creating a natural preservative, meaning the beer will last longer. 

You can still drink your beer quickly, especially when it’s as delicious as our beers!

Try our beer!

Try our beer made here in Kent, using the best high-quality beer hops. 

Visit our tap room, join one of our brewery tours, buy beer from our online shop, or come to one of our events

We look forward to welcoming you and sharing a pint!