Beer in all sense has Water, Malt, Hops and Yeast. That is the basics of beer just 4 simple ingredients. Hops for the most part are very much what most are tasting when tasting a beer. I know I am tasting for hops and how they add to the beer. Sure, there are Light Lager whose malt presence is strong and the Belgian beers with the yeast that will wrap your tongue in a blanket of flavors.
So how can you tell if your beer is going to be hoppy? On the side of the can and or bottle this special little acronym IBU.
International Bitterness Unit.
This is a mathematical calculation of Alpha Acids in the hops as to how bitter the hops are. Now with over 100+ varieties of hops some have a high number of Alpha and some low. These are all used for different additions to beers. Flavor, Bitterness, and finish of a beer. When added to the barley malt which is extremely sweet in flavor this is when the dance of sweet vs bitter comes off. As for most when you see 70 IBUs you can expect a hops flavor to be very much prevalent. In the recent few years, you can grab a 70 IBU beer and the flavor of the adjuncts added to the beer take over. Lactose, or sweet crystal malts can change the profile of your beer to be sweet vs the expected hoppy flavor even when high in IBU value.
Let us skip the added adjuncts for now that can be for another topic. For some when seeking beers, they look upon beer menus looking for the ABV which is the Alcohol % in the beer. This can be a big range from little 3.2 to 13%. Then right after listed is the IBUs. Seeing IBUs, tells me what to expect in my flavor of the beer. Now over the years IPAs have either become huge hop bombs with three or more big bittering hops added. The hops fight for king and make for a murky mess of flavors that are fighting to come out. What usually comes out is a mess of combined flavors and that comes off big, bitter, and dank. Now days you can also find a Single Hopped IPA, which can showcase the one Hops flavor, aroma, and finish.
Back to the question is your beer hoppy? Check the IBUs on the Can or when looking up on the beer menu at the bar they will be more than likely listed. Try a light lager with 20 IBUs then go for the big hoppy 70 IBUs IPA find your flavor. Enjoy your beer for the simple complexity of aroma, flavor, and finish.