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Meet Hop Water, the NA Answer to Beer

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As non-alcoholic offerings continue to flourish in the beer space, beverage manufacturers are looking for ways to bring familiar flavors to the glass. A promising entrant to the category is not actually a beer, but a hop-flavored seltzer.

Hop water, as it’s known, can deliver on what so many non-alcoholic India pale ales cannot: vibrant, fresh flavor that smacks of lupulin, the resinous substance that gives hops their characteristic aroma and flavor. That hop water pours clear can be visually jarring at first, but the lush scent of citrus or tropical fruit-flavored hops quickly overcomes any visual hesitation.

The product largely credited with igniting a surge in hop-water production is called Hop Kick and it’s made by the John I. Haas company under the umbrella of the BarthHaas group, a hop company. Officially, Hop Kick is a “hop-derived aqueous extract that’s clear, flowable, and completely soluble in cold-side beverage operations.”

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Jeff Dailey, the sensory manager at John I. Haas, says the product’s origins can be traced to the mid-2010s, when brewers were on a quest to cram previously unheard-of amounts of hops into IPAs for maximum flavor.

“It was this kind of Manhattan Project, finding the silver bullet of liquid dry hopping,” says Dailey. “It’s understood that it’s very difficult to be economical above two pounds per barrel for the very hoppiest of beers.” There was great demand for an efficient liquid dry-hopping product, he continues.

Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher
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Though it was never fully embraced in beer, the product gained steam amid the rise of hard seltzers several years ago. It only gained more traction with the arrival of the better-for-you drinks movement. Last year at the annual Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville, brewers gathered to try Hop Kick, which they dropped into cups of fizzy water. It was clear many walked away impressed; in the following months, hop water products began arriving on shelves.

Currently, there are well-known hop water entries from large breweries like Sierra Nevada, Revolution Brewing, Athletic Brewing, Austin Beerworks and Lagunitas.

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“Our pitch is that it’s delicious, hop-forward sparkling water, that is zero alcohol, zero calories, zero carbs and gluten-free,” says Paul Schneider, the head of brewing operations at Pittsburgh’s Cinderlands Beer Co.

It’s not just for the non-alcoholic crowd, either. Expect to see hop water on brewery taproom and restaurant menus more and more in the coming months. “When you’re drinking for a longer session, you might want to break it up, but not get off the flavor that you’re having with beer,” says Schneider.

It can also work in settings that don’t call for alcohol. “We also want it to be sparkling water replacement if you’re on Spindrift or Lacroix or whatever else. It’s a great stand-in at lunch,” he says. “People who love IPA and love hops, and this helps that craving outside of regular drinking sessions.”

The Best Hop Waters to Drink Right Now

Sierra Nevada Hop Splash

The makers of the country’s most famous and beloved pale ale certainly know their way around hops. This spritzy and refreshing hop water—which also comes in a blood orange version—is just right for lazy afternoons by the pool.  

$8.99 Total Wine & More

Revolution Super Zero

The Chicago-based brewery released its fruit-forward hop version of hop water last year. Embracing the flavors of the Nectaron and Sabro hop varieties, this hop water has pleasant flavors of pineapple and tangerine

$8.99 Shar’s Fine Wine & Spirits

Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher

A lively mix of oldschool hops and new ones, this hop water is also available in bottles. Aromas of lemon and lime mix with an earthy hop profile for a lupulin boost that perks up the tastebuds.  

$8.99 Instacart

Athletic Brewing Daypack

This fruit-flavored hop water is made by non-alcoholic beer maker Athletic Brewing. It’s similar to a La Croix, but with the hop base, mixed with flavors like black cherry, mango and blood orange.  

$8.99 Total Wine & More

Cinderlands Hop Run

Made with Citra and Mosaic hopstwo of the most popular hop varieties todaythis hop water scratches the itch for modern IPA drinkers, minus the haze.  

$ Varies Cinderlands Beer

Austin Beerworks Hop Water

Bursting with floral and botanical hop aromas, this was one of the first hop waters to hit the market, serving as an inspiration to other makers. At the bar, on the boat, in the morningthis one always hits the spot.  

$8.49 Total Wine & More


What Is Hop Water?

Hop water is carbonated water flavored with fruit and infused with the flavor of hops. It is non-alcoholic, gluten-free, often sugar-free and with no-to-low carbs. Some companies add additional fruit flavors, like you would see with other traditional seltzers. It is a NA alternative to hop-forward beers, like IPA.

Is Hop Water Alcoholic?

It is not. It’s a non-alcoholic beverage that can be sold at grocery stores or served alongside beer at bars and restaurants.

How Is Hop Water Made?

“We use the same high-quality, carbon-filtered water that we use for brewing beer, then we steep hops in it to extract the flavors and aromas we want to highlight,” says Kyle Ingram, brand director at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. “We finish the product by carbonating it with CO2 that we’ve recaptured during other beer-brewing processes at the brewery, and we then flash-pasteurize it for safety and quality. It’s premium, delicious and it’s nice to know that there are some elements of sustainability involved in the making of it, too.”