Let’s say that you have a good friend that you’ve known for quite a while now. They’re the type of person who’s just in love with all things alcohol-related. And whether or not they have a problem aside, they’re celebrating their birthday in a month. You want to give something related to their hobby of alcohol, but you don’t know exactly what to get them. After all, what can you give someone that’s a bona fide alcohol connoisseur?
The answer is that you give them something that they’ve never tasted before. And while that may sound like a challenge, chances are that your friend hasn’t really tried some of the more interesting varieties of spirits and wines. And if there’s one special variety of alcohol that they don’t know about, it’s probably hop-infused liquor.
You don’t typically expect hops to be found in any alcohol other than beer (namely IPAs), but hop-infused liquor is surprisingly tasty, giving that exotic flavor with the help of the bitterness of hops.
Originally, this list was supposed to be for a variety of types of infusions, but with the exception of honey, for now, it’s pretty much hop infused spirits. According to my research, there just aren’t any other options out there! That’s OK though, there are a variety of types of booze in the list, and any craft beer or hop lover will still get a kick out of them.
Running List of Other Hop Infusions
9 Hop-Infused Spirits
Hop-infused liquor can be made at home, using recipes like the ones we wrote about in our other article. But if you prefer buying specially-distilled bottles of hop-infused liquor, then we’ve got a few brands listed that’ll be great choices to give to your friend.
We’re starting off this list with arguably the most popular hop-infused spirit brand – R5 WHiskey. R5 is the name of the hopped whiskey that’s made by Charbay, a family-owned brewery and distillery that’s based in Napa Valley. R5 comes in a few different versions, though they all use Racer 5 IPA from Bear Republic Brewing.
R5 whiskey uses different kinds of hops to spice up the flavor of their spirits. Their whiskey is infused with Centennial, Colombus, Chinook, and Cascade hops. Expect different flavors depending on the hops used, from lemon and grapefruit to licorice and pine.
Charbay is also known for making other hopped whiskeys such as their Whiskey Release III and IV, as well as their Whiskey S. The brewery and distillery release their batches of whiskey in different age groups, providing for even more variety in flavor and texture.
McMenamins-Edgefield Distillery Monkey Puzzle
Whiskey is a popular spirit among many for its peaty and spicy flavors. Whether it’s rye or malt-based, whiskey turns humble grain into quality drinks. But you can take the flavor of whiskey to the next level with some extra ingredients. Adding a little more intensity to the spirit are hops, specifically Teamaker hops.
Other than the Teamaker hops, Monkey Puzzle also comes with some blackberry honey that’s harvested in Oregon, the same place where this whiskey is distilled. This 97 proof whiskey isn’t as intense as you’d think it is thanks to the honey. Expect not only the honey flavor but also hints of citrus and caramel, other than the strong malt taste of the whiskey itself.
Rasputin Hopped Whiskey
Rasputin Hopped Whiskey is a spirit that’s distilled by Corsair Artisan Distillery, a Tenessee and Kentucky-based distillery. While it’s now a distillery that’s known for its hopped whiskey, Corsair Artisan Distillery had humble beginnings. Derek Bell and Andrew Webber, two close friends, started off brewing special craft beers in their garage. They then turned their sights to distilling, where they then focused their efforts to this day.
It’s only a micro-batch, but Rasputin Hopped Whiskey is chock-full of flavor and intensity. It starts off with some stout beer, and after the distillation of the whiskey, it gets passed through hops, thereby adding the unique flavors of the flower to the vapor.
Once the entire process is done, all that’s left is to wait. Rasputin Hopped Whiskey is left to age in oak barrels, which attribute to the hints of vanilla and caramel in the final product. Overall, this whiskey’s intensity makes for a strong competitor among the brands on this list.
If gin’s your preferred spirit, don’t worry – whiskeys aren’t the only ones getting the hops treatment. Chief Gowanus is the result of the collaboration between the New York Distilling Company, a Brooklyn-based distillery, as well as David Wondrich, an expert at spirits. This gin is a mixture of both old and new techniques, as the basis of the whole process used is from a distilling manual recipe made in 1809.
Chief Gowanus is heavily influenced by Genever, a spirit made in the Netherlands that’s quite similar to gin. Using rye whiskey as a base, the whole thing is distilled multiple times with both hops and juniper berries. After 3 months of aging, it’s ready. This hybrid of both gin and whiskey offers the best of both worlds with its spicy flavors and citrusy aromas thanks to the juniper. It’s on the lighter side of spirits on this list, with the gin only being 88 proof.
Portside Distillery Hopped Rum
Thankfully, hop-infused spirits aren’t only limited to whiskey and gin. Rum and hops are an interesting combination, to say the least, with both sweetness and bitterness clashing together. But Portside Distillery proves that the combo works pretty well, with their 88 proof spirit as, well, proof.
Using both Centennial and Cascade hops as the source of the hop flavor, the rum also uses Portside Distillery’s very own Silver Rum and combines the two together. It’s an award-winning rum that offers both a great sip and a smooth finish.
Hatter Royale Hopquila
Don’t be fooled by the pun – Hatter Royal Hopquila contains 0% of tequila in it, and is actually a whiskey. Hatter Royale Hopquila is more than just clever wordplay (and to an extent, borderline false advertising) – it’s a finely made whiskey that’s the result of distilling malted barley that’s been fermented slowly. The hops are infused after the whole distillation process so that the oils found in hops can be included in the whiskey.
Hatter Royale Tequila uses American Centennial hops in their special recipe. The unique taste profile of American Centennials, combined with the whiskey that it’s infused with, ends up creating a whiskey that actually tastes like tequila. So no, it isn’t really false advertising, though you’d need to taste a sip of the whiskey to figure that out.
Smugglers’ Notch Hopped Gin
Smugglers’ Notch is another family-run distillery business that specializes in distilling small batches of handcrafted spirits at a time. Despite the name, this perfectly legal distillery uses Cascade hops grown from Vermont in their 90 proof hopped gin batches.
The whole process of distilling their hopped gin is pretty straightforward – they let their distilled gin vapors pass through both the Cascade hops as well as some juniper berries, just like the Chief Gowanus gin we showcased earlier. Expect a taste profile somewhat similar to Chief Gowanus, though don’t be surprised by the overall smoothness of Smugglers’ Notch’s Hopped Gin.
Hop Summer Release
With one of the lowest proofs on this list, Hop Summer Release is a great gift for those who’d want to sip on some spirits without the intensity spirits are commonly known for. Using an IPA as base for the overall distillation, Hop Summer Release is made using the dry-hopping process.
Sons of Liberty Spirits Company, the brewery that distills Hop Summer Release, only ages the whiskey for a short period of time before getting released and sold to the public. As they’re based in Rhode Island, it’ll be available there for the most part, though it is also sold in Massachusetts.
Sharp’s and Tarquin’s Hop-Infused Gin
We’re ending this list with a gin that you probably won’t be able to get your hands on. And that’s not because this particular gin was distilled in the U.K. – Sharp’s and Tarquin’s gin was only available for a limited time back in 2016. Unless some former buyers decided to sell their own bottle, don’t expect to get one of their bottles anytime soon.
Despite its lack of availability, though, we decided to mention Sharp’s and Tarquin’s gin because of it being the only hop-infused spirit on this list that’s the result of a collaboration between two brands. Sharp’s brewery, a specialist in producing quality ale teamed up with Tarquin’s Gin, a distillery that focuses on the juniper berry-based spirit.
Using Tarquin’s award-winning Cornish Gin, the teams infused Pilot, Cascade, and Crystal hops to create the product. This special batch of fewer than 300 bottles will probably never be remade again, though it’s good to know that both distilleries and breweries can work together in projects such as this.
It doesn’t matter if you’re giving gin, whiskey, rum, or “tequila” – as long as hops are involved, it’ll be good enough to wow that alcohol-loving friend of yours. If they’re kind enough you can even share a drink with them, so you too can enjoy the unusual yet brilliant flavor of hops in something other than just beer.