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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hop Varieties, Updated

[Note: post updated. I'll continue to add new varieties by request.]

Ah, fresh hop season, when the mind turns to the nature of different strains of humulus lupulus. Last year I compiled a list of hops based on those I knew were used for fresh hop beers. No real research has been done into the flavor and aroma these hops contribute when wet, or how there constituents (oils and acids) vary when wet, or really much of anything. But we can at least compare the wet versions to the dry versions, and so I offer the following cheat sheet for those uber geeks who want to compare and contrast. I've updated the list with a couple new ones from last year. Enjoy--

  • History. Amarillo was discovered growing on Virgil Gamache Farms—a wild hop mutation now owned by Yakima Chief.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Described as a “Super Cascade” with pronounced citrus (orange) and tropical fruit character. High in beta acids and a good aroma hop. (alpha acid: 8-11% / beta acid: 6-7%. Total oils 1.5-1.9 ml.)
  • History. A super-high alpha hop with principally Zeus and Nugget parentage released by SS Steiner in 2006.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Not much available on this new hop, which is described in generic terms as "fruity" and "floral." (alpha acid: 14-17%% / beta acid: 3-5%. Total oils 1.6 - 2.4 ml.)

Brewer’s Gold
  • History. A British bittering hop developed in 1919. Both Brewer's Gold and Bullion are seedlings found wild in Manitoba. It's an English/wild Canadian cross. Many modern high alpha hops were developed from Brewer's Gold.
  • Flavor/Aroma. It has a resiny, spicy aroma/flavor with hints of black currant and a pungent English character. (alpha acid: 8-10% / beta acid: 3.5-4.5%. Total oils 1.6-1.9 ml.)

  • History. The first commercial hop from the USDA-ARS breeding program, it was bred in 1956 but not released for cultivation until 1972. It was obtained by crossing an English Fuggle with a male plant, which originated from the Russian variety Serebrianka with a Fuggle male plant.
  • Flavor/Aroma. The most-used Northwest hop, with a lovely mild citrus and floral quality. (alpha acid: 4.5-7% / beta acid: 4.5-7%. Total oils 0.6-0.9 ml.)

  • History. Centennial is an aroma-type cultivar, bred in 1974 and released in 1990. The genetic composition is 3/4 Brewers Gold, 3/32 Fuggle, 1/16 East Kent Golding, 1/32 Bavarian and 1/16 unknown. Akin to a high-alpha Cascade.
  • Flavor/Aroma. One of the classic "C" hops, along with Cascade, Chinook, and Columbus. Character is not as citrusy and fruity as Cascade; considered to have medium intensity. Some even use it for aroma as well as bittering. Clean Bitterness with floral notes. (alpha acid: 9.5-11.5% / beta acid: 3.5-4.5%. Total oils 1.5-2.5 ml.)

  • History. Another of the recent proprietary strains, Citra is a relatively high-alpha dual-use hop that can be used either for bittering or aroma. Purported parentage includes Hallertauer, American Tettnanger, and East Kent Goldings.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Lots of American citrus character, but tending toward tropical fruit. (alpha acid: 11 - 13% / beta acid: 3.5 - 4.5%. Total oils 2.2-2.8 ml.)

  • History. Chinook hops were developed in the early 1980s in Washington state by the USDA as a variant of the Goldings Hop.
  • Flavor/Aroma. An herbal, smoky/earthy character. (alpha acid: 12-14% / beta acid: 3-4%. Total oils 0.7-1.2 ml.)

Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus ("CTZ")
  • History. The breeding nursery from which these varieties were bred contained 20-30 female plants from which seeds were gathered. Exact parentage is unknown.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Hops have a very distinctive skunky/marijuana flavor and a sticky, resinous flavor. (alpha acid: 14.5 - 16.5% / beta acid: 4-5%. Total oils 2-3 ml.)

  • History. Crystal was released 1993, developed in Corvallis a decade earlier. Crystal is a half-sister of Mt. Hood and Liberty.
  • Flavor/Aroma. A spicy, sharp, clean flavor. It is not complex like Cascade but offers a clear note when used with other hops. (alpha acid: 4-6% / beta acid: 5-6.7%. Total oils 0.8-2.1 ml.)

First Gold
  • History. A dwarf hop developed in England derived from a dwarf male and a Whitbread Golding variety.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Similar to Goldings--spicy and earthy. (alpha acid: 6.5-8.5% / beta acid: 3-4%. Total oils, 0.7-1.5 ml)

  • History. Traditional German hop from Hallertau region. One of the classic “noble hops” originating in Germany’s most famous hop-growing region. Many cultivars.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Pleasant herbal character with an excellent bittering and flavoring profile. US Hallertau exhibits a mild, slightly flowery and somewhat spicy traditional German hop aroma. (alpha acid: 3.5-5.5% / beta acid: 3.5-5.5%. Total oils 1.5-2.0 ml.)

  • History. Another cross of the Hallertauer Mittelfrüher, with characteristics similar to those of Mt. Hood, released in the mid-80s around the time of Mt. Hoods' release.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Mild and spicy, closely akin to Mt. Hood and Hallertauer. (alpha acid: 3.5-4.5% / beta acid: 3-3.5%. Total oils 1.0-1.8 ml.)

Mt. Hood
  • History. An Oregon State University product, Mt Hood was developed in 1985. It is a half-sister to Ultra, Liberty and Crystal. Mt. Hood is an aromatic variety with marked similarities to the German Hallertauer and Hersbrucker varieties.
  • Flavor/Aroma. It has a refined, mild, pleasant and clean, somewhat pungent resiny/spicy aroma and provides clean bittering. A good choice for lagers. (alpha acid: 4-6% / beta acid: 5-7.5%. Total oils 1.0-1.3 ml.)

Mt. Rainier
  • History. Also an Oregon State University product, Mt Rainiers were bred from a variety of plants, including Galena, Hallertauer, Golden Cluster, Fuggles, and Landhopen (?). It was released commercially in 2008 or '09.
  • Flavor/Aroma. An interesting hop that contributes a minty or anise note. (alpha acid: 7 -9.5% / beta acid: around 7%. Total oils- NA.)

  • History. Nugget is a bittering-type cultivar, bred in 1970 from the USDA 65009 female plant and USDA 63015M. The lineage of Nugget is 5/8 Brewers Gold, 1/8 Early Green, 1/16 Canterbury Golding, 1/32 Bavarian and 5/32 unknown.
  • Flavor/Aroma. A sharply bitter hop with a pungent, heavy herbal aroma.. (alpha acid: 12-14% / beta acid: 4-6%. Total oils 1.7-2.3 ml.)

  • History. Bred in Germany in 1978 from English Northern Brewer stock.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Combines qualities of spicy English hops and rich, floral German hops. Excellent, clean bittering and aroma. (alpha acid: 6-8% / beta acid: 3 - 4%. Total oils 1 - 1.5 ml.)

  • History. A triploid hop resulting from a cross between 1/3 German Tettnanger, 1/3 Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, and an American hop (possibly Cascade). The first seedless Tettnang-type hop. An OSU hop released in 1998.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Noble hop character, herbal, floral, but with a little American character. (alpha acid: 5.5-7% / beta acid: 7-8.5%. Total oils 1.3 - 1.7 ml.)

  • History. A propriety strain bred by Yakima Chief.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Simcoe is best characterized as having a pronounced pine or woody aroma. The cultivar was bred by Yakima Chief in the USA. It is sometimes described as being “like Cascade, but more bitter - and with pine.” (alpha acid: 12-14% / beta acid: 4-5%. To2.0-2.5tal oils ml.)

  • History. Sterling is an aroma cultivar, made in 1990 with parentage of 1/2 Saaz, 1/4 Cascade, 1/8 unknown German aroma hop, 1/16 Brewers Gold, 1/32 Early Green, and 1/32 unknown.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Similar to Saaz in aroma and flavor. Aromas are fine, rustic, earthy, and spicy. Used in this year’s Full Sail LTD 03. (alpha acid: 4.5-5% / beta acid: 5-6%. Total oils 0.6-1.0 ml.)

  • History. Summit is a recently-released super-high-alpha hop variety. It is a dwarf variety grown on a low trellis system. Because the low trellis is not machine harvestable, these hops are picked by hand in the field.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Strongly pronounced orange/ tangerine aroma and flavor. A favorite hop of Rob Widmer and used in recent releases (W ’07, Drifter). (alpha acid: 17-19% / beta acid: 4% - 6%. Total oils 1.5 - 2.5 ml.)
  • History. An older US-bred hop with Fuggles parentage.
  • Flavor/Aroma. A classic earthy/spicy hop with great versatility. (alpha acid: 4-6% / beta acid: 3.5% - 4.5%. Total oils 1 - 1.5 ml.)

Information assembled from the following sources: Beer Advocate, Brew 365, Hopsteiner, Yakima Chief, Winning Homebrew , Global Hops


  1. Joseph, see updated post. Holler if you want any others. I don't know off-hand of a Citra fresh-hopped ale, but I wouldn't mind trying one.

  2. Great start, but I'd like to see more old world strains. The German nobles, Czech, and British (e.g., Hallertau, Saaz, Fuggles, Goldings ...)

  3. What about all the New Zealand hops hitting the market?

  4. Great post. Here's some ideas for further hop analysis:

  5. Just a great post. This should be stickied on all beer blogs and websites. So informative and useful!