Idaho 7®: A Hop as Unique as the Brewers Who Love It
Profile: Tropical fruit, pungent, pineapple, and citrus (think apricot, stone fruit, orange, red grapefruit, papaya)
Terroir: Idaho and Yakima
Alpha: 10% - 14%
Beta: 3.5% - 5%
Total Oil: 1.5% - 2.4%
Brewing Styles: Pale Ale, IPA
With a complex profile that’s pungent and bright, Idaho 7® combines intense tropical notes with pineapple aromas and layers of black tea, making it a go-to hop for brewers who want to create dynamic beers with waves of flavor. Assertive and flexible, it can shine in SMASH utilizations or be combined with other varieties to create fruit-forward beers that stand apart from the Citra® and Mosaic® crowd.
“The first word that comes to mind when I think of Idaho 7 is unique,” said Mike Pelechaty, Head Brewer at Masthead Brewing. “It’s loaded up on the front end with pineapple and berry notes, but it also has a little bit of pine and dankness as well. In some ways it’s reminiscent of some of the Southern Hemisphere varieties.”
What’s in a Number?
In 2015, Nate Jackson at Jackson Hop Farm in Wilder, Idaho began playing with some experimental hop varieties. There were nine in total.
As long-standing friends of Nate, Crosby Hops helped identify which of his experimental hops to bring to market. Of the nine, number seven just popped, bursting forth with heavy tropical notes of apricot, citrus, stone fruit, red grapefruit, and papaya plus earthy hints of black tea and pine. That variety, henceforth known as Idaho 7®, quickly became a favorite of brewers for its juicy aroma and multidimensional flavor.
Casey Motes, Co-Founder at Eureka Heights Brewing, it bridges the gap between classic hops of years past and many of today’s new-wave hops. “It offers a great balance between new and old-school West Coast hops,” he said.
Why Brewers Love Idaho 7
While its potent aroma and flavor lend themselves well to dry hopping, Idaho 7’s high alpha acids contribute to its bittering properties. Idaho 7 is similar in intensity to Citra but has the depth of Mosaic, allowing it to be added to any hop combination to create a broader profile.
This singular constellation of qualities makes Idaho 7 perfect as a single hop or blend for IPA, pale ale, and hop-forward American wheat beers. Known as a hop that plays well with others, it truly shines alongside:
“It’s a great base to build a hop profile around,” said Luke Holgate, Head Brewer at Hi-Wire Brewing. “It checks a lot of boxes; hints of dankness, while still exhibiting tropical fruit notes and lots of citrus. We use it often with the showier tropical fruit hops to give a depth to the flavor and aroma. I feel like pairing it with a Citra or Sabro gives a fuller profile to the beer than just ‘tropical.’”
Notably, Idaho 7 is easier to source than many Southern Hemisphere hops that add a similar, but less pronounced, tropical flavor. Many brewers particularly like how it strikes a balance between versatility and uniqueness as well as approachability and complexity.
“It’s such a bright and expressive hop!” said Bryan Winslow, Head Brewer at St Elmo Brewing. “While it definitely has its own personality, I sometimes throw it in a similar category as Citra.”
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A Hop as Unique as the Brewers Who Love It
Because it’s a complex and multidimensional hop that can stand alone or work in harmony with others, Idaho 7 lends itself to creative use by brewers.
Masthead Brewing uses it to drive heavy tropical flavors and has used it in numerous beers, including their Midwest Red IPA, which won gold at the Great American Beer Festival in 2018. “We also brewed a rye pale ale a while back with Idaho 7,” said Pelechaty, “and it was freaking awesome.”
St Elmo Brewing’s Bryan Winslow uses Idaho 7 throughout the brewing process, but predominantly as a dry hop at cooler temperatures. “Our hazy pale ale, Smalls, is the jam. That beer really features Idaho 7,” he said. “The hop does a good job of creating a zesty, pungent aroma and flavor, while still maintaining approachability.”
Steven Torres and Victor Novak at Golden Road Brewing have showcased Idaho 7 in its purest form, featuring it in a SMASH. “We got a lot of pineapple, stone fruit, and dank on the nose and flavor,” he said. “It won second place at the L.A. IPA Festival!”
At Hi-Wire Brewing, Holgate makes use of Idaho 7’s flexibility. “We tend to move around our additions based on what it’s pairing with and what we’re hoping to get from it. I like it as a whirlpool hop because it brings that dank touch without being a sulfur bomb and still lends a lot of citrus,” he said. “Hopping with it mid-fermentation we’re able to drive down some of that dankness and highlight its more tropical notes, while using it as a terminal dry hop brings all of these layers at once.”
Although it’s often used in high ABV IPAs and IIPAs, Casey Motes of Eureka Heights Brewing has a different take: “I feel it works better in lower ABVs and less aggressive hopping schedules because of the complexity of the hop.”
The beauty of Idaho 7 is its flexibility, allowing brewers to imagine new ways to work with and express it.
The Source Matters
Nobody knows Idaho 7 better than Nate Jackson. As the original breeder, Jackson Hop’s plants are the most mature in the market and especially thrive in their native terroir. Equally important, the crop benefits from the experience and expertise of the grower who developed the variety.
It is possible to source Idaho 7 from other growers. Since the pick window – the period of time in which the grower can pick the plant and produce a flavorful hop – is relatively late, Idaho 7 is an agronomically sound choice for growers. Over a million pounds of it are grown each year. However, the quality and consistency of these hops can be variable.
Throughout the entire lifecycle of Idaho 7, from growing to processing, timing is crucial. Despite the late pick window, growers can’t afford to miscalculate their harvest. To preserve those complex citrusy notes, growers must be careful to harvest those hops at the right time – picking even a few days late can dull the flavors or, even worse, turn them oniony and garlicky. After harvesting, it’s essential that the hops are processed quickly to lock in that flavor.
Not All Idaho 7 Is the Same
Crosby Hops’ close relationship with Jackson Hop not only afforded us the opportunity to help bring the variety to market, it allows us access to the best possible Idaho 7, directly from the source.
Thanks to five generations of expertise and our close relationship with Jackson Hop, we’ve refined a system for preserving the flavor of Idaho 7 long after harvesting. It starts immediately after we receive the hops in early October. As soon as the bales come through the door and we complete customer selections, we process the hops to stabilize them as fast as possible.
We then use our proprietary T-90 processing techniques to create a more expressive hop pellet that highlights its robust tropical aromas, then immediately store the pellets in freezers to prevent degradation.
“Idaho 7 has been a vital part of our IPA portfolio,” said Derek Gallanosa, Head Brewer at Moksa Brewing. “Whether we are brewing a West Coast or Hazy IPA, Crosby’s Idaho 7 lends a pronounced peach ring and white gummy bear flavor and aroma to the consumer’s beer drinking experience.“
A True Workhorse
From its intense tropical characteristics and incredible flexibility to its complex profile and ability to combine with other varieties, Idaho 7 is a dual-purpose hop that brewers can consistently turn to. Its unique flavor and accessibility not only make it a worthy alternative to in-demand fruit-forward hops but a showcase variety that you can build beers upon.
"It’s a workhorse hop that can be used at any time in the boil,” said Trevor Lovato, Head Brewer at Ska Brewing. “It produces a nice balance of pine and some slight melon and stone fruits. We went with Idaho 7 because of the availability. We were tired of chasing the Southern Hemisphere hops when we can get Idaho 7 and produce some great beer.”