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If I am homebrewing an IPA or a pale ale, I love using Bravo hops for their bittering qualities. I think this hop offers a lovely, smooth bitter finish to ales and has worked wonders in several of my homebrew recipes.
If you haven’t used Bravo hops yet, my guide is going to show you why I enjoy using Bravo hops and the benefits they offer to certain types of homebrews. I don’t think this is a good aroma hop, but I have used it many times to add bitterness to my ales.
Bottom Line Up Front
I think Bravo hops work best purely for their bittering qualities. Some hops I have found work great with Bravo to add aroma include Simcoe, Cascade, and Citra. While I enjoy the aroma of Bravo hops, I would only use them in my homebrews as a bittering hop, particularly for IPAs and pale ales.
Pros and Cons of Bravo Hops
- Excellent bittering qualities due to the high alpha acid content
- Widely available hop that is easy to find
- You can grow these hops yourself if you want
- Bravo hops can be used to make IPAs, ales, and stouts
- These hops aren’t often used to add aroma to ales.
History of Bravo Hops
Bravo hops have been on the market since 2006. It was initially bred with Zeus and a male hop within the Hopsteiner Breeding Program.
Bravo was developed as a bittering hop as its high-alpha content is ideal for adding a smooth bitterness to many drinks such as IPAs, and pale ales. You can find this hop in several stout recipes too.
I think that Bravo hops work best as a bittering hop as its high-alpha content is perfect for a smooth bitterness, mainly in IPAs and pale ales.
However, I am a fan of some of the flavors that you will find with Bravo. I have noticed predominant notes of orange, stone fruit, and vanilla, while these hops have a heavy floral element. I have also found some mild citrus flavors with Bravo. However, I don’t think it is notably citrusy, especially when I compare it to some hops such as Amarillo and Citra.
I do enjoy the aroma that Bravo hops give off, but its alpha acid content is its main advantage, and how it delivers a smooth bitterness to ale.
How to Grow Bravo Hops
You can grow Bravo hops at home if you want, and as far as I am aware, there are no restrictions as Bravo rhizomes are available to buy.
This hop has a pretty aggressive growth rate, which is quite similar to Bianca Gold Hops, which are mainly used as an ornamental hop. The ease of harvest with these hops isn’t that straightforward either. However, I have found that they are resistant to verticillium wilt (a common fungal disease some hops suffer from) and powdery mildew, which is a bonus.
Bravo hops are pretty widely available to buy, so there isn’t a huge reason to grow your own. Although, I do know many homebrewers that enjoy growing their hops and crafting delicious beers and ales.
If you are new to growing hops, there are easier hops to try, and reading my guide on how to grow hops will make the process much clearer.
What Kind of Beers Can You Make from Bravo Hops?
Bravo hops are mainly used for bittering, so I think they work well in many homebrew recipes. I believe that some other hops have much more versatility. For example, while I have made many kinds of drinks with Challenger hops, such as various ales, barley wine, stouts, and lagers, I don’t think Bravo is as diverse. However, from my experience, Bravo hops work well in the following three types of homebrews.
I think most hops work great in a homebrewed IPA recipe, and Bravo hops are no different.
As I mentioned, this hop is generally added as a bittering hop instead of one that adds significant flavor and aroma to ale. The bittering qualities are the main reason I use Bravo hops in an IPA recipe. Bravo hops will impart a smooth bitterness to your IPA recipes, and I have found the bitter taste to be very clean when I have used Bravo.
However, I think Bravo has some potential for use as an aroma hop. If you are looking for a hop that isn’t going to feel oppressive in an IPA, you can experiment with Bravo for its aroma qualities. I like the orange, stone fruit, and vanilla notes while the citrus isn’t overpowering, and it can work to create a smoother IPA.
Pale ales are another homebrew that I think is ideal for making with Bravo hops due to their bittering qualities.
I enjoy making pale ales that have a milder bitterness and flavor when compared to an IPA. The alpha acid content of Bravo makes this an excellent hop to use in a pale ale. I reckon using Vienna malts alongside Bravo hops is a great recipe for a delicious homebrew pale ale, and if you want, you can use Bravo to add in flavor. As I said before, I generally only use Bravo for its super bittering qualities, but I have brewed up some pale ales with Bravo center of attention as an aroma hop.
Bravo can stand on its own to an extent for its aroma, but I have used Bravo as a bittering hop combined with Cascade to add a fantastic flavor and bitterness combination to a pale ale.
I am a big fan of homebrewing a stout, and I find them especially good during the year’s colder months.
When making a stout, I don’t like using overly sweet hops. I think the bittering qualities of Bravo hops are ideal for homebrewing a lighter stout recipe. The smoother bitterness will add a pleasant taste when combined with the malt of your choice. I think you could look at using Cascade or Centennial hops in your recipe too.
Acid and Oil Composition for Bravo Hops
|ALPHA ACID (%)||13-18%|
|BETA ACID (%)||3-5.5%|
|Alpha-Beta Ratio||2:1 – 6:1|
|TOTAL OILS (mL/100g)||1.6-3.5 mL|
(flavors – citrus, fruit)
(flavors – wood, spice)
(flavors – pepper, herbs)
(flavors – floral, fresh)
(including linalool, geraniol, and selinene)
Alternatives to Bravo Hops
I don’t find it difficult to buy Bravo hops, and I enjoy using them in many of my homebrew experiments. However, if you want to try some different hops that are similar to Bravo, here are my recommendations.
The obvious substitute for Bravo hops is Zeus, mainly because Bravo was bred with Zeus hops, so they share similar qualities.
The main similarity between Zeus and Bravo is using this hop for bittering, and I have experienced great results with both hops. They have a similar alpha acid content. I often find the bitterness of my ales and pale ales comparable if I use either Zeus or Bravo.
I do think there are differences in their aroma. While Bravo has mainly orange, stone fruit, and vanilla notes, I have found a spicier flavor to Zeus, including curry, pepper, and licorice. I also don’t think that Zeus has the same citrus flavor as Bravo.
- I think it shares the same bittering qualities as Bravo
- Excellent hop for making IPAs and pale ales
- The aroma of Zeus is markedly different from Bravo hops.
I think that Nugget hops provide you with many more options for creating homebrews. In my opinion, it is a more versatile hop than Bravo as this is a dual-purpose hop, making it ideal for use for its bittering qualities or adding flavor.
You will notice similar aromas between Nugget and Bravo as I can sense the spiciness and herbal notes in both hops. I have used Nugget hops to add aroma to many types of homebrews, including IPAs, pale ales, stouts, and even Saison ales on occasion.
The alpha acid content of Nugget is fairly similar to Bravo, which is why I don’t mind using Nugget as a substitute, as I think the results are pretty similar.
- Dual-purpose hops that can be used for bittering and aroma
- I think Nuggets offers any of the same flavors as Bravo
- Versatile hop that is ideal for ale and stout recipes
- I don’t get much of a citrus aroma from this hop, which can be a downside for making IPAs
Apollo hops are one of my favorite bittering hops to use, especially if I want to whip up a pale ale or an IPA that has a smoother bitterness and focuses more on flavors from other hops. I think Apollo works great in conjunction with hops such as Citra, Cascade, and Simcoe, and I have used Apollo with one or even two of these hops to great effect.
Apollo provides a similar bittering finish to Bravo, and I have no issues using one or the other in my homebrews.
While the aroma of Apollo differs from Bravo as Apollo gives off orange, grapefruit, and some pine and grassy notes, I rarely use Apollo to add flavor to ales.
- You can use this hop to inject a smooth bitterness to IPAs and ales
- Apollo has a pleasant aroma, but I only use this hop for bittering
- This hop isn’t as versatile as some other hops as it only works for IPAs and pale ales.
Magnum hops are the final hop I think you can use instead of Bravo.
Like Bravo, I find that Magnum is only suited as a bittering hop. I like some of the aromas you get from Magnum, including citrus, an evident spiciness, and tropical and herbal notes; however, I only use Magnum to add bitterness to my homebrews.
Some of the drinks I have made with Magnum hops include ales and stouts, and I have also conjured up some smooth bitter lagers.
Magnum and Bravo have similar alpha acid content, so I don’t see why you can’t substitute one for the other. If you want to learn more about these hops, read my guide on Magnum hops to get a better idea of how to use Magnum in your homebrews.
- You can easily substitute Bravo for Magnum hops
- Offers similar bittering qualities for ales, stouts, and lagers
- This is only a bittering hop, so I wouldn’t recommend using it for aroma.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How should I use Bravo hops?
Answer: I recommend mainly using Bravo hops for their excellent bittering qualities. These hops have great alpha-acid content and provide a smooth bitterness to ales. While I have found that you can use them for aroma, I think they work best as a bittering hop.
Question: Are Bravo hops similar to Magnum?
Answer: You can substitute Bravo hops for Magnum hops as they contain similar alpha acid content. For aroma, I have found Magnum hops to have similar flavors to vanilla, floral, and some orange, but less of an emphasis on citrus.
Question: What do Bravo hops taste like?
Answer: While Bravo hops are generally used for bittering, I find that they have a pleasant aroma and can work as an aroma hop in some IPAs. Some of the flavors I have discovered with Bravo hops include orange, stone fruit, and vanilla, while they have citrus qualities too.
Is it easy to grow Bravo hops?
Answer: You can grow Bravo hops, but they can be trickier than other hops. An advantage Bravo hops have is that they are resistant to verticillium wilt and powdery mildew.
Conclusion: Bravo Hops Are one of My Favorite Hops for Bittering IPAs and Pale Ales
I thoroughly enjoy making IPAs, and pale ales with Bravo hops, and I suggest you give this hop a chance if you haven’t used it already.
I like the smooth bitterness this high alpha acid hop gives to ales, and I have made some lovely tasting ales and IPAs. When using Bravo hops for bittering, I often use Mosaic, Cascade, or Amarillo hops to add a significant amount of flavor. I think one of these hops will provide a punchy finish to an ale, while Bravo hops offer an excellent level of bitterness.
While I have seen recipes that have used Bravo hops as an aroma hop (and I have tried this before), I think you should stick to using Bravo for its primary purpose – bittering.