As a general rule, if hops are added early during the brewing process then the final beer can be expected to be high in bitterness and fruity, herbal, or spicy flavours.
The opposite is true when hops are included later or near the end of the brewing cycle, as this tends to add a far more delicate bitterness and subtle taste and aroma of fruits, herbs, or spices.
With yeast, particular strains, especially when left unfiltered from the final beer, can produce unique and interesting flavours, exemplified in the flavours of coriander and banana found in many German wheat beers.
It should be noted, however, that brewers have historically used various spices, fruits, and herbs, such as orange peels or coriander, as the main ingredient to add additional flavour to their beers and many brewers today still follow this practice.
Because these types of flavours in beer can come from various sources, it is often best when describing the taste of fruits, spices, or herbs in beer, to name the prominent fruits, herbs, or spices tasted and their level of intensity as this is a simple way of explaining these flavour sensations in any beer considered, irrespective of whether or not these ingredients were actually used during production.
Bitterness in Beer
As mentioned previously, much of the bitterness that we taste in beer is as a direct result of the amount and type of hops used by the brewer during production.
In describing the level of bitterness found in beer, there are a number of different approaches beer experts, brewers, and scientists have taken, not least of which is their use of the international bittering units (IBU) scale.
Put simply, the IBU scale is a scientific method of measuring the chemical compounds found in a beer that causes bitterness, rating their levels on a numerical scale.