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Which Hops have the Most Humulene?

Humulene Hops

Humulene, also known as α-humulene or α-caryophyllene, is one of the components of the essential oil from the flowering cone of the hops plant. It’s a naturally occurring terpene, first found in hops (Humulus lulupus) from which it derives its name. It’s an isomer of β-caryophyllene, and the two are often found together as a mixture in many aromatic plants including pine trees, orange trees, marsh elders, tobacco, and sunflower plants. Humulene is also found in sage, basil, cloves, Japanese spicebush, ginseng, mint, ginger, Vietnamese coriander and cannabis.

The concentration of humulene varies among different varieties of hops but can be up to 40% of the essential oil. Humulene and its reaction products in the brewing process of beer gives many beers their earthy, woody, piney, “hoppy” aroma. It has been said that noble hop varieties have been found to have higher levels of humulene, while other bitter hop varieties contain low levels.

The ratio of humulene to caryophyllene varies from one hop variety to another, but many brewers consider a good aroma to be one that has a ratio of greater than 3:1. Such hops tend to be floral, herbal, and spicy in character.

Some varieties, such as Hallertauer Mittelfrüh and U.K. Kent Golding, may contain 30% or more of their essential oils in humulene, but, because humulene is highly volatile and hydrophobic, only trace quantities of it may actually reach the final beer. Oxidation products of humulene, on the other hand, especially humulene mono-and di-epoxides, can impart significant amounts of aroma to beer. Humulene epoxide III is one of the most potent flavor compounds in Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, for instance, a variety that is high in humulene but relatively low in total oils.

Allowing hops that are high in humulene to age in bales for several weeks prior to pelletizing will result in greater amounts of humulene epoxides, as well as other hop oil oxidation products, which some brewers believe can significantly increase the hops’s aroma potential.

Which hops have the most humulene? Below is a table which ranks hops in terms of their humulene content as a percentage of the total oil content.

Variety Humulene % Aroma Wheel Placement Description
Vanguard 51.1 Floral, Herbal Herbal and floral tones
Admiral (UK) 46.87 Citrus, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal Pleasant, resinous hop aroma with hints of citrus (orange) and herbal flavors
EKG (UK) 45.95 Floral, Spicy, Tobacco/Earthy Smooth and delicate with floral, lavender, spice, honey, earth, lemon and thyme overtones
Perle (GR) 40.38 Fruity, Floral, Spicy Delicate floral, fruit, spice and mint tones
WGV (UK) 40.36 Floral, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal Fresh earthy, botanical and floral flavors
Golding 39.84 Floral, Spicy Mild and delicate with sweet floral characteristics
Liberty 37.86 Citrus, Spicy Mild and spicy with subtle lemon and citrus characteristics
Fuggle 36.37 Fruity, Tobacco/Earthy Mild wood and fruit characteristics
Hallertau (GR) 36.18 Mild, yet spicy, with floral and citrus tones
Perle 35.28 Floral, Spicy, Herbal Slightly spicy with herbal and floral characteristics
Tettnang 33.59 Spicy Noble aroma that is pleasant and spicy
Willamette 33.03 Floral, Spicy Mild and pleasant, with slightly spicy and floral tones
Northern Brewer (GR) 32.41 Floral, Herbal Medium intense herbal and floral tones
Hallertau 32.39 Floral, Spicy, Herbal Mild and pleasant, yet spicy, with herbal and floral characteristics
Styrian Celeia 32.13 Floral Pleasant and hoppy, similar to traditional European varieties
Magnum 31.21 No distinct aroma characteristics
Brewers Gold (GR) 30.48 Fruity, Spicy Black currant, fruit and spice characteristics
Northern Brewer 29.44 Tobacco/Earthy, Pine Medium intensity, pine and mint characteristics
Glacier 29.08 Herbal Pleasant hop aroma
Saaz 28.18 Spicy, Tobacco/Earthy Mild spice and earth tones
Tettnang (GR) 27.12 Floral, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal Mild and pleasant with balanced earthy, herbal and floral aroma impressions
Mt. Hood 26.8 Spicy, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal Mild, herbal and somewhat pungent or spicy
Crystal 26.58 Spicy Mild, spicy and floral
Santiam 25.81 Floral, Spicy, Herbal Slightly spicy with herbal and floral characteristics
Herkules (GR) 25.62 Floral Spicy, floral and hop notes with hints of pine, black pepper and melon
Styrian Aurora 24.16 Floral, Pine Intense and pleasant displaying floral, pine and hoppy characteristics
Sorachi Ace 22.62 Citrus, Herbal, Grassy Unique lemon and dill characteristics
Yakima Gold 22.62 Mild and pleasant
Millenium 22.2 Floral, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal Mild and resinous with floral and herbal tones
Ahtanum 20.69 Citrus, Floral, Tobacco/Earthy Floral, earthy, citrus and grapefruit tones
Sterling 19.33 Citrus, Spicy Herbal and spicy, with a hint of floral, citrus (lemon/pineapple) characteristics
Summit 19.21 Citrus, Spicy, Tobacco/Earthy Distinct spice, earthy, onion, garlic and citrus (pink grapefruit, orange and tangerine) tones
Equinox 19.07 Citrus, Herbal, Tropical Fruit A pronounced aroma profile with citrus, tropical fruit, floral and herbal characteristics. Specific descriptors include lemon, lime, papaya, apple, and green pepper.
Bullion 18.84 Fruity Strong and zesty blackcurrant characteristics
Cluster 18.82 Floral, Spicy Strong floral and spicy characteristics
Nugget 18.8 Spicy, Herbal Mild and pleasant with spicy, herbal tones
Chinook 18.35 Citrus, Spicy, Pine Distinct, medium intensity spice and pine characteristics with subtle notes of grapefruit
Mt. Rainier 17.92 Citrus, Floral, Spicy Floral and noble aromas, with citrus and licorice overtones
Amarillo 17.9 Citrus, Floral, Tropical Fruit Floral, tropical, and citrus (lemon, orange and grapefruit) characteristics
Simcoe 17.42 Citrus, Tobacco/Earthy, Pine Unique passionfruit, pine, earth and citrus characteristics
Newport 17.32 Mild
Horizon 16.36 Floral, Spicy Pleasant and spicy, with floral characteristics
Warrior 16.03 Citrus, Herbal, Pine Mild and resinous with subtle citrus, pine and herbal characteristics
Brewers Gold 15.65 Fruity, Spicy Spicy, fruity characteristics, black currant
Brewers Delight 15.22
Palisade 14.89 Stone Fruit, Herbal, Grassy Apricot, grass and clean floral charcteristics
Cascade 14.19 Fruity, Citrus, Floral Medium intense floral, citrus and grapefruit tones
Galena 13.53 Citrus, Stone Fruit, Spicy Spicy, blackcurrant and citrus (grapefruit) tones
Bitter Gold 13.49 No specific aroma characteristics
Chelan 12.66 Citrus, Floral Mild floral and citrus characteristics
Ultra 12.53 Floral, Spicy Mild and pleasant with spicy, floral tones
Columbus 11.99 Citrus, Spicy Pungent, black pepper, licorice characteristics with subtle citrus overtones
Tahoma 11.68 Citrus, Cedar, Pine Predominate citrus and lemon notes with cedar, pine, floral, pepper and subtle green melon notes.
Centennial 10.68 Citrus, Floral Medium intensity floral and citrus (lemon) tones
Mosaic 10.62 Citrus, Floral, Grassy A complex array of tropical fruit, citrus, berry, herbal, earthy and pine characteristics
Bravo 8.97 Fruity, Floral Pleasant fruity and floral aroma characteristics
Citra 8.73 Fruity, Citrus, Tropical Fruit Strong citrus and tropical tones of grapefruit, melon, lime, gooseberry, passion fruit and lychee
Triplepearl 7.2 Pleasant and balanced with notes of melon, orange citrus, resin, spice and pepper
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Australian Hops Producers

Hops Australia

There are currently two major hop producers in Australia with the total planted area estimated at around 600 hectares. Hop Products Australia Limited (HPA) produces hops in Tasmania’s Derwent river valley and in the Ovens district near Myrtleford in north‐eastern Victoria, while Ellerslie Hops has its hop yards at Myrrhee near King Valley in Victoria. Both HPA and Ellerslie Hops run private breeding/selection programs that have yielded some locally and internationally recognised and trademarked hop varieties. These companies closely control production of their varieties.

Other Australian hops producers include Ryefield Hops (NSW), Crossover Hops (SA), Hills Hops (SA), Fresh Hops Coop (SA), Possum Lane (QLD), Karridale (WA), Hopshed (WA), Hopswest (WA). These hops producers and more are listed in the tophop.com.au hops supplier directory.

Open source varieties listed by various (small scale) suppliers for sale in Australia include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • Challenger
  • Chinook
  • Cluster
  • East Kent Golding
  • Fuggle
  • Golden Cluster
  • Goldings
  • Hallertau
  • Hersbrucker
  • Kracanup
  • Mount Hood
  • Nugget
  • Perle
  • Precoce d’Bourgogne
  • Pride of Ringwood
  • Red Earth
  • Saaz
  • Target
  • Tasmanian Cascade
  • Tettnanger
  • Vienna Gold
  • Willamette
  • Wuerttemberger

On the world stage, some of these varieties are considered old and no longer widely produced, having been superseded by new varieties with characteristics preferred by brewers.

Hops Suppliers

In addition to the hops producers and suppliers listed above, there are other hops suppliers including Bintani and Hopco. If you’re looking for other raw materials including malts, check the Independent Brewers Association directory here: http://iba.org.au/directory/

Is there a hops shortage? Some craft brewers say they are battling a hops shortage. Farmers are devoting more acres to growing hops than they were five years ago, but it takes a few years for hop plants to reach their full yield.

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Fuggle Hops

Fuggle Hops

Fuggle hops are also known as Fuggles hops and Fuggle UK. Fuggles are also identical to Styrian Golding. Fuggle is used in breeding and is parent to Willamette, Cascade, and Glacier hops.

Fuggle hops profile:

  • Purpose: Aroma
  • Alpha Acids: 2.4%-6.1%
  • Beta Acids: 2.1%-2.8%
  • Origin: UK
  • Substitutes: Fuggle (US), Willamette, Styrian Golding, Tettnanger, Newport
  • Style Guide: English Ale, Porter, Mild Ale, Bitter, Extra Special Bitter, Lambic, Amber Ale, Cask Ale, Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Strong Ale, Nut Brown Ale, Golden Ale, Christmas Ale

Here are some questions people often ask about Fuggle hops.

How do you pronounce fuggle? “Fug” rhymes with hug. The “gle” is the same as it is in giggle.

What flavour do fuggles have? Originally used as a bittering and aroma hop, fuggles have more recently been used as primarily an aroma hop. The earthy and woody characteristics of Fuggle makes a great addition in English style ales, milds, bitters and porters.

Beers with fuggles? If you want to taste a single hopped fuggle beer try Little Creatures’ The Fuggle is Real stout in a can.

Can you use Fuggles as a bittering hop? Although they were originally a bittering and aroma hop, Fuggles are now primarily used as an aroma hop. Fuggles aren’t typically used for bittering because their alpha acids are so low. They don’t have a bitter harshness but you can still use them for bittering.

Can you dry hop with fuggles? Fuggles can be grassy and earthy when dry hopped. Some people dislike fuggles dry hopped, but others have a taste for it. Love ’em or hate ’em.

What are the substitutes for fuggle hops? Fuggles can be replaced with Styrian Golding hops, Fuggle (US) hops and Willamette hops. You can also replace Fuggles with Tettnanger and Newport hops.

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Chinook Hops

Chinook Hops

Chinook hops are a very distinctive dual-purpose hop used in Ales, commonly in IPA, for both bittering and flavor/aroma. 

Chinook hops profile:

  • Characteristics: Bouquet of pine and spice
  • Purpose: Bittering & Aroma
  • Alpha Acids: 12%-14%
  • Beta Acids: 3%-4%
  • Substitutes: Galena, Eroica, Nugget, Bullion, Columbus, Northern Brewer, Target
  • Style Guide: Winter Ale, Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Porter, Stout, Lager, Barley Wine, American Lager, American Ale

Here are some questions people often ask about Chinook hops:

What flavour do Chinook hops have? Chinook hops are mild to medium-heavy, spicy, piney, and grapefruity.

Which beers have chinook hops? Try the Mikkeller Single Hop Chinook IPA or BrewDog have a Chinook single hopped style in their 4 pack, BrewDog IPA is Dead Single Hop IPA 4 Pack (Chinook, Ella, Pioneer & Mandarina Bavaria).

What can you substitute Chinook hops with? Chinook hops can be substituted with Nugget hops, Columbus hops, Northern Brewer hops and U.K. Target hops.

Which hops can you combine Chinook with? Chinook hops are great on their own but they can also compliment Galaxy hops, Crystal hops, Ahtanum hops and maybe Cascade. They also go well combined with Simcoe and Centennial.

Can you use Chinook for dry hopping? Chinook is primarily used for its high alpha acid content as a bittering hop. These days, however, late additions and even dryhopping with Chinooks is becoming more popular. This hop can contribute herbal, piney, and smoky aromatic qualities to a beer.

 

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Hop Cones

Hop Cones, Hop Flowers

What are hop cones? The hop cone (also called the hop flower or strobile) is the mature female flower that is borne on current season lateral growth produced along the bines. The cone contains the lupulin glands that produce the alpha acids, beta acids and essential oils that brewers value for their bitterness and aromatic properties. Most of the lupulin is produced around the base of the bracteoles within the hop cone.

How long do fresh hops last? Once they’re dry, the hops are shaped into small, rabbit-food-looking pellets. These nuggets remain usable for up to three years. (A smaller amount of hops are dried and kept in whole cones, which stay fresh for approximately one year if properly stored.) Most beer you taste in cans, bottles, or taps is made with these dried hop pellets.

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Popular International Hops Varieties

Cascade Hops

What are the most popular hops?

Hop varieties for brewing purposes are loosely grouped according to their alpha acid percentage (bitterness) and essential oil content (aroma). The terms used to identify the key varietal groups are bitter, aroma and dual purpose.

The International Hop Growers Convention (IHGC) maintains a comprehensive list of hop varieties grown worldwide. The IHGC is a member‐based organisation with the primary goal of safeguarding the common interests of hop growers and hop merchants. Its activities are non‐political and focus mostly on furthering the economic and technical aspects of hop production.

The complete 2016 IHGC Hop variety list includes details for 247 varieties grown by member organisations from 20 nations. The list is too large to reproduce here, however, it can be accessed via the IHGC web site (www.hmelj-giz.si/ihgc).

The peak body for hops production in the United States of America is USA Hops. This organisation prepares an annual statistical report that contains data on US domestic and international hops production. The 2016 USA Hops statistical report is a useful source of data on varieties produced in the USA. It is accessible via the USA Hops web site (www.usahops.org).

Below are the top 10 varieties currently planted in the USA. This list gives us insight to the range of key variety types grown by the largest producing nation. It is clear that, to meet the demand of the brewing
industry and its consumers, a mix of bittering, aroma and dual purpose hops are grown.

Top 10 varieties by acreage in the USA in 2016. Source: International Hop Growers’ Convention (2016).

Variety or brand name, Type, Origin & Plant variety rights

  1. Cascade, aroma, USA – public USDA
  2. Centennial, dual, USA – public WSU
  3. Citra®, HBC 394, aroma, USA private breeding program US Patent
  4. Simcoe®, YCR 14, dual, USA private breeding program US Patent
  5. Zeus, bitter, USA private breeding program
  6. Mosaic®, HBC 369, aroma, USA private breeding program US Patent
  7. Chinook, dual, USA – public WSU
  8. Summit, bitter, USA private breeding program US Patent, EU PVR
  9. Nugget, bitter, USA – public USDA
  10. Willamette, aroma, USA – public USDA

Websites:

  • International Hop Growers Convention www.hmelj-giz.si/ihgc
  • IHGC hop variety list www.hmelj-giz.si/ihgc/doc/2016%20NOV%20-%20IHGC%20hop%20variety%20list.pdf

Here are some questions people often ask:

What are the best hops? It depends on what you mean by “best”. It’s subjective. You could consider the hops aroma, flavour, purpose, its acid content and more.

How many varieties of hops are there? There are about 80 different hops plant types commercially available today, but that number is not hard and fast. Beer brewing is a complex business, and new varieties are constantly being bred and developed.

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Hops Varieties Grown in Australia

Hops Australia

Which hops are grown in Australia?

There is no comprehensive list of all hop varieties available to grow in Australia. Only those that are grown on a commercial scale are identified in the IHGC world hop variety list.

Varieties grown commercially in Australia in 2016 (Source: www.hmelj‐giz.si/ihgc/obj.htm)

Variety or brand name, Type, Origin, Plant variety rights

  1. Astra, flavour, Australia, Ellerslie
  2. Cascade, aroma, USA
  3. Centennial, dual, USA
  4. Cluster, dual, USA
  5. Ella, flavour, Australia, HPA
  6. Enigma, flavour, Australia, HPA
  7. Galaxy, flavour, Australia, HPA
  8. Helga, aroma, Australia, HPA
  9. Melba, flavour, Australia, Ellerslie
  10. Pandora, flavour, Australia, Ellerslie
  11. Pride of Ringwood, bitter, Australia
  12. Spalter Select, aroma, Germany
  13. Summer, flavour, Australia, HPA
  14. Super Pride, bitter, Australia, HPA
  15. Topaz, flavour, Australia, HPA
  16. Victoria Secret, flavour, Australia, HPA
  17. Willamette, aroma, USA

Where are hops grown in Australia? Hops are predominantly grown in the eastern states, with Australia’s largest producers located in Victoria and Tasmania. With only very small quantities of hops grown in WA, many WA breweries sourced dried product from interstate and overseas.

Hops Growing involves considering crop rotation, soil, position, frost tolerance, feeding, companion plants, spacing, sowing and planting, harvesting and trouble shooting.

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Hops Origins and Species

Hop Types

Where do hops come from?

Hops are a member of the Cannabaceae family. The main commercial hop (Humulus lupulus) originates from the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere and is one of three species in the genus Humulus. The lesser known species Humulus japonicas and H. yunnanensis are not cultivated commercially, although the former is sometimes grown as a garden screening plant. Little is known about the species H. yunnanesis except that it grows at high elevation and the low latitude of 25°N in parts of China. This species could be of interest to plant breeders in the future for developing varieties that might grow productively over a wider range of latitudes.

The species Humulus lupulus encompasses five known varieties: 1. Neomexicanus, 2. Lupuloides and 3. Pubescens, which are all native to various parts of North America, and 4. H. lupulus var. cordifolius which originates from Eastern Asia. The fifth variety, H.lupulus var. lupulus, originates from Europe and West Asia and represents most of the commercial hops grown worldwide.

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A Very Brief History of Hop Cultivation

History of Hops Cultivation

A Very Brief History of Hop Cultivation

Hop cultivation for use in brewing beer, originated in the Northern Hemisphere and is reported to go back to the mid 700s AD in the Hallertau region of Germany. In England, commercial scale production did not occur until the early 16th century. Although European hops were introduced into North America around 1629, they were not grown there on a commercial scale until the early 1800s (Neve 1991). According to Pearce (1976), after several failed attempts to ship live plants to Australia from the UK soon after colonisation, the first successful plants were produced from seed in New South Wales in 1803. These early plants did not impress, probably because the open‐pollinated seeds were highly variable in character and the growing locations’ suitability, in terms of soil, water and climate, were questionable.

A former convict, James Squires, did manage to produce hops at Kissing Point on Sydney’s Parramatta River in the early 1800s. Squires is said to have selected one or more successful hop plants from the imported seed progeny and vegetatively propagated from these to establish a successful five‐acre hop yard (Pearce 1976). Squires was also credited with establishing Australia’s first brewery on the same site in Sydney.

The year 1822 marks the earliest confirmed record of vegetative plant material being brought successfully to Australia from England. These plants were established in Tasmania by emigrant and experienced hop grower William Shoobridge. By the 1840s, the hop industry in Tasmania was well established around the Derwent River valley.