Hops are one of beer’s most integral ingredients, and beer is one of the world’s oldest beverages. As such, the relationship between hops and beer is a long one: German monks started adding hops to beer for preservation and flavor in the 8th century. It has always seemed an exclusive pairing, but recently, hops have been popping up in other beverages (alcoholic and not), demonstrating why they’re special along the way.
Hopped non-beer alcoholic beverages have appeared in different categories over the years: Charbay’s R5 Hop-Flavored Whiskey gets credit for paving the way in 2013. Now, one can find Wigle’s Hopped Whiskey, Citizen Cider’s The Lake Hopper, and Nashville’s Walker Brothers' hard kombucha made with Citra hops. More notably, however, is the current wave of non-alcoholic, non-beer options brought to life by hops, often billed as some iteration of ‘hop-infused sparkling water.’