I’m not sure how or when it happened, but at some point over the past 30 years or so, hops became sexy. Many would argue that they’re the defining ingredient of craft beer, even though they’re the only one of the Big Four that you could feasibly do without.
Obviously, you can’t possibly make beer without water. And you need both grain (for sugars) and yeast to make alcohol – because let’s be honest, you probably wouldn’t be enthusiastic enough about a beverage to read a magazine dedicated to it if that beverage was non-alcoholic. But you could make a beer without hops, using some other plant to add bitterness and flavour to your brew.
Of course, you could also cook without using salt, or bake without sugar and I think we know how disappointing those endeavors would be. Hops are what made craft beer exciting.