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Pushing Hop Flavor to Its Outer Limits

Brewers are experimenting with a variety of ways, old and new, to squeeze even more aroma and flavor from their hops and cram it into their beers. But how much hop saturation is too much for drinkers?

Courtney Iseman Oct 4, 2022 - 18 min read

Pushing Hop Flavor to Its Outer Limits Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves/

In October 2021, Tree House Brewing in Massachusetts unveiled Project Find the Limit—a series of double IPAs that gradually, progressively cranks up the dry-hop volume as well as the alcohol and residual-sugar content in each new release. The limit they seek is the “limit of enjoyability”—the idea is to stop when at least 50 percent of polled customers cry “uncle,” as maximum hop saturation tips into something no longer drinkable.

As we go to press, Tree House has released 10 of these IPAs—with recent releases beginning to include liquid hop products—with nary a limit in sight.

The stunt crystallizes how breweries are working to quench the apparently insatiable thirst for greater hop character—but also how, inevitably, there must be a point of diminishing returns. Even as clean lagers and bitter West Coast–style IPAs regain favor, hazy IPAs remain popular among many drinkers—and they have become a vehicle for pushing the limits of hop saturation.

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