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Lemondrop hops are a relative newcomer to the market, characterized by a mild citrus taste and aroma combined with some other exciting flavors.
In my Lemondrop hops guide, I will go through why these hops are ideal for creating delicious ales and beers.
I’ll look at the pros and cons of Lemondrop hops and the types of homebrews you can create, and I will also list a few alternatives with a similar flavor profile.
Bottom Line Up Front
I am a fan of Lemondrop hops, and I think that you should consider looking at these types of hops to create homebrews that are a little different. With their milder citrus taste combined with many lighter flavors, they are the ideal hop to use in summer drinks and any homebrews you plan on crafting for the warmer months of the year.
Pros and Cons of Lemondrop Hops
- Similar to Cascade hops, but with some subtle differences to create unique homebrews
- Don’t overpower your drinks with a heavy citrus flavor, as it is quite mild.
- These hops can be used for IPAs, Belgian Ales, American Pale Ales, and Wheat Beer.
- If you want a more intense Citrus flavor, opt for a different hop
History of Lemondrop Hops
Some of the hop varieties I write about can date their history back tens or even a few hundred years, so exploring a relative newcomer to the homebrewing scene is refreshing.
In contrast to Saaz hops, for example (which can trace its history back centuries), Lemondrop hops were created in 2001 and released to the market around 10 years later. These hops are a cross Cascade and a male hop, and while I’ll get an in-depth look at their flavor profile later, Lemondrop hops provide a unique citrusy taste.
Historically, well as far back as the early ’00s, these hops have been used to great effect in several brews such as wheat beers, IPAs, and Belgian Ales.
The flavor profile of Lemondrop keeps drawing me to these hops when crafting up some interesting homebrews.
I’m a big fan of citrusy hops, although I often find Citra a little overpowering. Lemondrop isn’t overpowering with its citrus flavors, and it does bring in some other exciting aromas too.
With this hop, you can expect to find herbal, lemon, mint, and even some hints of melon. The typical Myrcene content is 45-47% of Lemondrop hops, which certainly adds a dominant citrus flavor without being too intrusive. In contrast, Citra has a Myrcene content of around 60-70%, so you can see why I like Lemondrop for that citrusy lemon aroma and taste without feeling that it suppresses the other hops in my brews.
How to Grow Lemondrop Hops
With the explosion of people now taking up homebrewing – seriously, I know so many people know that craft up their own beers, ales, and other drinks – buying most hops is really easy.
However, there is something more traditional and natural about growing your own hops for your homebrew creations. OK, this does take a lot more time and effort, but the end result is worth it.
Lemondrop hops are pretty easy to grow. While they aren’t as straightforward as some hop types, you won’t run into the same major issues as growing the more difficult hops. Lemondrop has a tolerance for downy mildew, which is excellent news, although powdery mildew can be a potential issue.
I have found that Lemondrop hops produce a reasonably good yield, and you won’t require as much height as you think, as I’ve discovered the hop doesn’t grow as high as certain decorative hops such as Bianca Gold.
What Kind of Beers Can You Make from Lemondrop Hops?
I have found Lemondrop hops to be quite versatile in the types of homebrews you can make. Most hops have a good range of ales, lagers, and stouts that can work for, although some can be pretty restrictive to certain beers. I have found Lemondrop to be suitable for these types of homebrews.
IPAs are up there with my favorite drinks, and I have found Lemondrop hops to be particularly effective at crafting some delicious homebrewed IPAs.
The flavors of minty, lemon and green tea lend themselves particularly well to creating light and refreshing IPA. If you are looking at creating a summer drink that is perfect for sipping on a hot July or August day, I would definitely look at Lemondrop hops.
If like me, you aren’t a massive fan of the sometimes overpowering citrusy taste of many IPAs, Lemondrop hops offer a solid middle ground with a subtle yet striking citrus flavor.
Wheat beers aren’t often my go-to drink; however, I do enjoy one occasionally, and I think Lemondrop works wonders when creating a unique and crisp beer.
Again, if you are using Lemondrop hops for a wheat beer, I would edge towards creating this with the warmer months of the year in mind. There is something about this hop that just screams warm weather and sitting outside.
I will explain why Centennial hops are a good replacement for Lemondrop below, but they work well in conjunction with each other to create a solid wheat beer.
I would also recommend experimenting with Lemondrop hops to make some lighter Belgian Ales.
One of the nicest Belgian Ales I have tasted is (surprisingly!) called Lemondrop by The Monnik Beer Company based out of Kentucky. Some people perhaps don’t think a mild citrusy and herbal hop works well in a Belgian Ale which is usually a bit darker with a roasted finish; however, I disagree.
I think this lighter hop can help balance out some darker flavors and colorings that you usually find with Belgian Ale. If you have any Belgian Ale homebrews on the horizon, include some Lemondrop hops to provide a unique finish.
Acid and Oil Composition for Lemondrop Hops
|ALPHA ACID (%)||5-7%|
|BETA ACID (%)||4-6%|
|TOTAL OILS (mL/100g)||0.8-2 mL|
(flavors – citrus, fruit)
(flavors – wood, spice)
(flavors – pepper, herbs)
(flavors – floral, fresh)
Alternatives to Lemondrop Hops
Cascade hops are among the most popular hop types and provide a good substitute for Lemondrop. In fact, as I said above, Lemondrop was developed by breeding Cascade with another hop, so it stands to reason that Lemondrop and Cascade would be quite closely related.
Known as the “quintessential American hop,” Cascade has a long history dating back to the 1950s and accounts for around 10% of the hops grown in the USA.
Like Lemondrop, these hops have a noticeable citrus flavor but certainly not as much as Citra. You will also find floral notes and some grapefruit hints too. Like Lemondrop, you can use Cascade for a wide variety of homebrews, including IPAs, Belgian ales, and some wheat beers.
If I had to choose a replacement for Lemondrop hops, Cascade would be my first choice as it is so closely related but also doesn’t overpower your brews with an overload of citrus.
- Taste and aroma is similar to Lemondrop
- Doesn’t overpower drinks by being too citrusy
- Popular hop that can be used for many drink types
- These hops don’t store very well
Another good alternative to Lemondrop hops that I would recommend is Centennial hops.
A lot of people have described Centennial hops as ‘super Cascade’ because they have many similar characteristics; however, the floral notes are much more robust with Centennial. This is an ideal hop for a variety of different brews, including:
- Red Ale
- American wheat beer
These hops have a high level of bitterness. I have found that this works to their advantage, especially when adding them into certain drinks, such as balancing out a darker stout. Although, use this hop in moderation because I have overloaded some drinks by using too many Centennial hops.
Centennial hops are a good starting point if you are relatively new to homebrewing. They are a good beginner hop to use, and their variety of flavors can help you create some tasty lagers, ales, and stouts.
You can read my full Centennial hops guide if you want more information.
- Versatile hop that can be used for many different homebrews
- Similar flavor to Cascade and Lemondrop, with some slight differences
- Good hop for beginners and homebrew novices
- Centennial hops are very bitter, so use them sparingly
The third alternative I would recommend if you can’t get your hands on Lemondrop is Motueka hops.
These hops are from New Zealand, and I have found that they share some similar flavors and aroma as Lemondrop. Motueka hops have some lovely fresh fruit vibes, including notes of citrus, lime, and some tropical fruits.
I have noticed that Motueka hops don’t have an overpowering citrus profile, which is similar to Lemondrop. There is a lack of herbal aroma with Motueka, so this is a slight difference from Lemondrop, but you can make many similar tasting drinks with either of these hops. If you don’t want to spoil any of your IPAs or beers by overloading them with citrus, this is an excellent hop to utilize in your homebrews.
IPAs, Belgian Ales, Pilsners, and many lagers can work well with Motueka hops, and I think they are often underused by homebrewers, so they represent a good choice to make something a bit different.
- Offer flavors close to Lemondrop
- Don’t overpower drinks with a lot of citrus aromas
- You can make many different homebrews with this hop
- This hop does lack some herbal notes
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What do Lemondrop hops taste like?
Answer: Lemondrop hops do have a stronger than usual citrus flavor, although it isn’t overpowering and allows other flavors to come into your homebrews. This includes notes of herbal, lemon, and mint, and you can even taste some mild melon in there too.
Question: What types of homebrews can I make with Lemondrop hops?
Answer: Lemondrop hops are very versatile, and they open the door to many possibilities for homebrewing. I have used this hop successfully in making IPAs, American Pale Ales, and Belgian Ales, and you can also use this hop for Wheat Beer. Lemondrop hops work great in homebrews designed for the warmer summer months.
Question: Can I grow Lemondrop hops?
Answer: You can. Lemondrop hops are widely available for purchase, so you shouldn’t have any issue buying some. However, if you want to grow Lemondrop hops, they are easier than other hop types. My guide on How to Grow Hops will help you to get started.
Question: Are Lemondop hops similar to Citra?
Answer: Sort of. Lemondrop shares some similar flavors as Citra, including some herbal, floral, and tropical fruit aromas. However, Citra has a much more powerful citrus flavor, and I think this distinguishes it a lot from Lemondrop. For me, Cascade is a closer hop than Citra in its aroma and flavors.
Question: Would Lemondrop hops suit a stout?
Answer: I haven’t personally used Lemondrop to make a stout, and I think that there are better hops out there that you can use. This includes Crystal hops with pine and wood flavors combined with a milder citrusy flavoring, which I think is more suited to taking the edge off a darker stout.
Conclusion: Lemondrop Hops Are a Newcomer which Is Worth Experimenting with
It does feel strange calling Lemondrop hops newcomers as they have been around commercially for a decade now; however, compared to many hops, they are a newbie to the market.
I think that Lemondrop hops present a lot of possibilities for creating some exciting homebrews, especially if you are planning on brewing summertime drinks. The citrus flavor isn’t overpowering, and the other notes, including floral and herbal aromas, lend themselves to creating some great ales, IPAs, and lagers.
If you have ever used Cascade hops for creating homebrews, you will be able to craft up something tasty with Lemondrop, as they are pretty similar in how their flavor your beer.