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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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How to Add Hops to Homebrew

Boil Hopping

People often ask how to add hops to homebrew. Here are some tips and some common questions. 

When to add hops to beer?

You can add hops at various stages of the brewing process. Hops can be mash hopped, first wort hopped, dry hopped, boil hopped, and late hopped. Choose a technique that suits your chosen beer style. When hopping you can use fresh wet ops or usually pellet hops. Contain the hops with mash so that they don’t create a mess. Many brewers filter for clarity.

How do you use hop pellets in homebrew? Usually the pellets will dissolve during boil and settle down to the bottom of your kettle when you cool your wort. Then, when transferring to the fermenter you can just leave them behind (easier to do with a siphon). Use a hop bag – put the pellets on the bag, when you are done with the boil simply pull the bag out. Using a hop bag avoids the mess of having to strain hops from your wort.

How much hops should I add to my beer? Overall, if your dry hops plus your late hops together weigh 40–60g, you’re in the right zone. For an IPA, late hopping in the 30 – 60g per 20L range will give you the right amount of aroma, presuming you’ve dry hopped the beer.

Do you keep first hops, boil hops or late hops in for the ferment? You definitely don’t intentionally keep boiled hops in during fermentation, because they add nothing to that process. Hops added to the boil are usually left behind when draining the kettle to the fermentor, or at least if they are transferred, it is with the intent to rack off of them (and the other trub) soon.

Mash Hopping

Mash hopping is the addition of hops directly to the mash tun. Hops can be placed on top of the grain bed and left to sit as the mash is sparged. Some might say that mash hopping provides a better overall balance and character to the beer, though it adds almost no bitterness, but most people would consider it an ineffective use of hops.

Mash hopping is rarely done because it requires a fairly large amount of hops and adds little in terms of flavor. Since the hops are never boiled, no bitterness is released and most of the flavourful oils from the hop flower are lost in the boil that follows.

Brewers reckon that most of the benefits from mash hopping are due to the lowered pH (greater acidity) from mash hopping and not the hops itself. Given the high cost of hops, as well as many cheaper methods for reducing the pH of your wort, home-brewer’s rarely mash hop.

First Wort Hops

First wort hops are hops added to the boil pot at the very start of the lautering process. Unlike mash hops, first wort hops remain in the boiler during the boil and therefore do contribute bitterness to the wort.

First wort hopping is an old German method that’s made a come back. First wort beers are smoother, better blended and have less of a bitter edge and aftertaste. First hopping on lightly hopped styles reduces bitterness without upsetting the malt-bitterness balance of the beer.

Boil Hops – Bittering Hops

Do you add hops directly to wort? Bittering hops or boil hops are just that – hops added for the bulk of the boil to add bitterness to the beer. Boiling hops releases the alpha acids that provide bitterness in your beer. I will usually add my bittering hop addition at the beginning of the boil.

Boil hops aka bittering hops are added for the bulk of the boil to add bitterness to the beer. Boiling hops releases the alpha acids that provide bitterness in your beer. The longer you boil your hops, the more bitterness you will add.

Brewing calculators, such as BeerSmith (or BrewersFriend) can help estimate the bitterness for a given hop additions. In general, your bittering additions should be boiled for full length of your boil (about 60-90 minutes) to extract as much bitterness as possible. You can add your bittering hop addition at the beginning of the boil.

30 Minute additions are said to aid mouthfeel and flavor. The bitterness utilization is still fairly high, and the flavor is said to still be there.

Late Hop Additions

What is late hopping? Late hopping is the addition of hops during the latter part of the boil. It is an excellent method for creating hop aroma and flavor in your beer. In general, any additions with less than 30 minutes left in the boil and prior to cooling the wort are considered late hop additions.

Hops added in the last 5-15 minutes of the boil are called late hop additions. They’re usually not added for bittering, though they do contribute a small amount of bitterness to the beer. The main purpose for late hop additions is to add aroma and aromatic hop oils to your beer.

In addition to bittering compounds, hop cones from “aromatic” hop varieties contain volatile hop oils that provide the strong flowery aromatic flavor and scent desirable in many hoppy beer styles. Unfortunately most of these compounds boil off within 10-20 minutes of adding the hops.

Late hop additions should always use “aromatic” hop varieties, and should be done within the last 10 minutes of the boil to preserve as many aromatic oils as possible. In addition, late hop additions are most appropriate for beer styles where a hoppy flavor and aroma is needed. You would not add late hop additions to a malty or low hop beer style.

What does a 0 min boil time mean? It means putting an addition of hops at flameout, or when you turn off the kettle. Those late addition hops can add hop aroma and some nice flavor. I wouldn’t take your hops out when the boil is done for hoppy beers. Leaving those hops in while the wort cools can give you more of that aroma that some styles call for.

The Hop Back

A hop back is a device containing hops used inline between the boiler and chiller to infuse fragile hop oils and aroma directly into the hot wort before it is cooled and transferred to the fermenter. While a hop back does not add any significant bitterness to the beer, it can add great aroma to your finished beer. For more information see our article on the hop back.

Dry Hopping

Dry hopping is the addition of hops after the beer has fermented. Hops are typically added in the secondary fermenter or keg and left for a period of several days to several weeks. Dry hopping is used to add a hoppy aroma to the beer, as no bitterness is added with this method. Dry hopping is also used in many commercial beers for a hoppy burst of aroma.

The basic method is to add a few ounces of hops to the secondary before bottling. If kegging, use about half as much hops. Again you should use only aromatic hop varieties, and you should only use this method with hoppy beer styles where a strong hop aroma is desired.

Combining Hop Methods

Advanced brewers often use a combination of hop additions to achieve a burst of hop aroma and flavor, particularly for hoppy styles like India Pale Ale. In fact, many true hopheads will add substantial first wort and boil hops, followed by multiple late hop additions and a final dose of dry hops.

The “hop bursting” technique, involves adding a fraction of your bittering hops at the beginning of the boil, and the bulk of them at the very end of the boil. This method can give a great aroma and a smoother bittering.

Some try to keep things simple, so they typically add a single boil or first wort addition for bitterness, followed by a single late hop addition in the last 5-10 minutes of the boil to preserve aromatics and dry hopping if appropriate. In these hop starved times, you can also try to use higher alpha bittering hops for the main boil hops and save my precious aromatics for the late addition and for dry hopping.

On non-hoppy styles, brewers often choose to add a single bittering addition, often as first wort hops which give the smooth blending perception this method produces.


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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.