There’s a large market for flavored sparkling water. Popular brands are sold in every major retail store so you can grab some anywhere. Famous sparkling waters such as La Croix and Bubly are what come to people’s minds at first mention. And yeah, maybe those choices are nice and refreshing, but you want something different.
What if you could enjoy those flavors in refreshing, sparkling water? That’s hop water.
But now I bet you’re curious about a few things: how does it taste, is it alcoholic, or how do I get it? Well, I’ve done the research and tests to answer just that. This is Josh, one-on-one, answering your question about what is hop water.
So, let’s begin.
Bottom Line Up Front: This is Hop Water
Basically, hop water is sparkling water that uses hop flowers (mainly used for beer making) as its main ingredient, along with water. The hops are used to add aroma and flavor. You won’t get the bitterness that we usually associate with hoppy beer, and hop water is non-alcoholic (NA).
I list a few hop water options down below, but that’s not to say I don’t have a favorite. Hop Wtr, one notable brewery, is one worth mentioning here. The company’s wider range of flavoring options wins me over right there, but Lagunitas’ own hop water is also a worthy contender.
Hop Water vs Non-Alcoholic (NA) Beer
Let’s compare the two styles of hop drinks and see how they hold up. Both types share a lot of similarities but many differences as well.
When you look at the two practices of how these drinks are made, you will also understand how different these two are. Non-alcoholic beer is brewed identically to traditional beer; only another step is added. Some methods include filtering out the alcohol to give it an ABV of 0.05% or lower. This is the highest percentage a drink can be before it is considered alcoholic. A second method is to boil the beer to get rid of the alcohol that way.
Hop water follows a whole other process entirely, simply by adding hops to water before carbonating for flavoring. Without the use of grain, alcohol has nothing to do with this process whatsoever. The hops are utilized solely for their natural citrusy flavoring.
Both drinks have little to no alcohol, just through different methods. Now, when it comes down to what the two have in common, both are healthier substitutes for beer. Both typically have lower calorie levels than alcoholic beers and almost zero in other fields such as sugar and carbohydrates.
Both utilize hops and do their best to showcase those flavors, especially hop water.
Hop Water vs Non-alcoholic Beer Comparison
Much like our own cousins (yes, they’re cousins now), many of us have our favorites, and when it comes to choosing hop water or non-alcoholic beer, it all depends on which one you prefer.
If you’re looking for something to pound down on the town or at home with the people closest to you, then maybe go with NA beers. They will still give you the same vibe and familiar taste of drinking a beer, flavor and all, without worrying about getting too messed up. Or maybe you don’t want all the calories that can come with bingeing a pack or two; these beers are your way to go.
For the people who wake up early, get their workout in, and want to quench their thirst with some water, hop water is your best choice. Cause this isn’t just any water: you get the sweet sensation of bubbling in every drink combined with the citrus and aroma-fueled notes you know come straight from the cones. Hop water is a rejuvenating beverage that you can keep in your water bottle and keep you hydrated for your busy day.
What Does It Taste Like?
But Josh, what does it taste like? Let me explain, but know that not all hop water tastes the same.
Not all products will be made with the same hops, which can change the taste right there. For example, some hop waters may be made with Organic Crystal hops or maybe a little BC Tahoma to add some citrus with just a dab of spice. There are many different types of hops that can be used to make hop water, which leads to a lot of variety from brewery to brewery.
Maybe one brewery creates its drinks with a hint of woodsy pine or a splashing tropical mango flavor, a cinnamon touch of spice, or a wild licorice taste. Whatever the flavor, chances are it still comes from the hops.
In addition, there are plenty of hop waters that included other flavors in addition to the hops.
Take that Hop Wtr variety pack I mentioned earlier. That comprises three flavors: classic, mango, and blood orange. The fruity varieties still keep the taste of hops at the base but expand upon them by adding even more tasty fruit flavorings. With many other breweries releasing similar products, finding a flavor that is tailored to your taste is only becoming easier.
So, most local places may not have these available where you are. Smaller, more independent companies are making waves across the nation, but as of right now, chances are you won’t be likely to find this product in every store. However, another way to purchase a case of these is simply by ordering online. Going straight to the brewer’s websites offers options to browse and buy different flavors and varieties to be shipped to you.
Until the expansion of this growing community reaches higher levels, hop water will remain slightly less accessible than other sparkling waters. And if you do, by chance, find a case or decide to go the online route, there’s something else I need to bring up—the price.
As of now, hop water is still pretty hard to find. More standard sparkling water can be found at your local grocery store for maybe a few dollars. A twelve-pack of Clear American sparkling water can run you about $4 in certain locations. But take one of the more well-known brands of hop water, such as the conveniently named ‘Hop Wtr,’ and compare the price. Then you’ll start to see another drawback.
Around fifteen dollars for a twelve-pack to be shipped to you, it’s safe to say you’ll be paying a little more. Hop Wtr (like many others) is a smaller business, so it’s reasonable that the price needs to be adjusted to get their product out to the world. I get it. But pricing is a factor in what a buyer is looking for most of the time. And while there’s also Lagunita’s ‘Hoppy Refresher,’ available for under ten dollars, you can potentially be paying twice as much for hop-flavored water.
So, if you really want hop water, another option is to make it yourself.
Making the Stuff
Not just because the stuff is more manageable than crafting beer or that you could make so much more for cheap, but also because why not? For some, sparkling water and the like all serve one unifying purpose: to be healthier than traditional soft drinks.
I won’t get into detail about the step-by-step process of making hop water at home, but it can be a relatively simple and practical way of obtaining a consistent amount of the stuff. It really is just carbonated water steeped with hops.
Allowing the fresh cones to steep (much like how you would let a teabag sit inside a glass of water) for an extended amount of time can infuse the water with the flavors and aroma of the flower. So if you are feeling adventurous, try to make hop water right at home!
My Favorite Hop Water
If you choose not to homebrew, consider ordering hop water here:
- 12-ounce bottle / $1.99
- 4-pack / $6.99
The Hoppy Refresher series from the Northern California brewery Lagunitas is a great place to start. This bottle has zero calories, fat, sodium, and carbohydrates.
This way, you still get the health-conscious sparkling waters in play. Not only this, but this beverage brings has a refreshing, tropical flavor.
2. HOP WTR
- 6-pack / $11.99 at some locations (website $36.99)
This hop water has its own thing going on. The brewery was started by just two homies entering their 30s and looking for a healthy alternative to beer.
Along with its classic offering, the duo and their growing company have a lineup of all types of flavors, ranging from peach, mango, blood orange, lime, and a variety pack.
It’s a brand many may know and is a great place for beginners looking to dive into hop water.
- 12-pack / $39.95
- 24-pack / $66.59
The Northwest hops fused inside this bottle only help bring its creator, Paul Tucker’s, crafted vision to life. Three flavors are available for this one: original, grapefruit, and mango.
As this may not be the most affordable option, some hop water lovers may want to venture into other brands to find their perfect drink.
What is Hop Water: Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Does Hop Water Contain Alcohol?
Answer: It does not. Although it sometimes utilizes yeast to biotransform the hops, no grains are involved, leaving the percentage of alcohol at zero.
Question: Why is Hop Water so Expensive?
Answer: Many brewers choose their pricing and sell them independently. Pricing is influenced by the time and care put into making these drinks and the self-sufficing business structures.
Question: Is Hop Water Healthy?
Answer: It can be, yes. Many people drink these as a healthier alternative to many popular drinks today. Most contain no calories, fat, sodium, or carbohydrates. With the added benefits of helping weight management and digestive issues, this may be healthier than drinking still water in some instances.
Hop water can best be described as sparkling water but flavored with hops. It’s that straightforward. A healthy alternative to a drink for many people in their daily lives, a simple process can make you a batch of this generally citrusy, herbal, refreshing beverage in no time.
Don’t want to make some at home? No worries. You can always support growing breweries that make their own versions of hop water. You made it this far into the article, so you’re obviously interested enough to try some for yourself. I say go for it and try this new way to drink water.
- “The Sparkling Water Beer Lovers Need to Try” by Cole, Meghan Hynes, January 8th, 2021
- “WHAT’S THE BUZZ? HOP WATER! (3 EASY DIY RECIPES).” by Senger, Sue, September 15th, 2021
- “The Newest Beverage Trend Is Hoppy Drinks That Aren’t Beer” by Kuta, Sarah, April 30th, 2020
- “Difference between alcoholic and ‘non-alcoholic’ beers” by drinkaware