Farnesene (including α-Farnesene and β-Farnesene) is a component of the essential oils of hops. Farnesenes have a woody, citrus, floral, herbal aroma and are found in many other plants including hops, ginger, turmeric, ylang-ylang, and chamomile, and also in some insects.
The presence or absence of farnesene (sometimes referred to as beta farnesene) is a distinguishing feature for some hops. In Hallertauer Mittelfrüh and many other (but not all) German varieties; for instance, farnesene is completely absent, while in Czech Saaz, German Tettnanger, all Slovenian varieties, and several American varieties, most notably Sterling, it is present in high levels, at roughly 10% to 20% of total oils.
Because farnesene is hydrophobic and volatile, the compound itself is usually not found in beer unless the beer has been dry hopped with a variety that contains farnesene, and even then it is present in only very small amounts. However, high levels of farnesene in hops generally correlate well with pleasant, noble-type hop aroma in beer.
α-Farnesene is the main compound contributing to the scent of gardenia, making up about 65% of the headspace constituents. It’s also found in the coating of apples, and other fruits, and it is responsible for the characteristic green apple odour. Its oxidation by air forms compounds that are damage the fruit and cause it to bruise and rot. Alpha-farnesene is also used as a flavoring agent, with a floral, woody, vegetable flavour.Farnesenes act as alarm pheromones in termites or food attractants for the apple tree pest, the codling moth.
β-Farnesene is a constituent of various essential oils and it’s also released by aphids as an alarm pheremone upon death to warn away other aphids. B-farnesene is often added to lubricants, greases, personal care products, and plastic and rubber products.
Farnesenes act as alarm pheromones in termites or food attractants for the apple tree pest, the codling moth. Several plants, including potato species, use Farnesene as a natural insect repellent.
Farnesene is known to have anti-inflammatory, calming, antispasmodic, antibacterial, antifungal, and sedative properties.
Which hops have the most farnesene? Below is a table which ranks hops in terms of their farnesene content as a percentage of the total oil content.
|Variety||Farnesene %||Aroma Wheel Placement||Description|
|Tettnang (GR)||23.7||Floral, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal||Mild and pleasant with balanced earthy, herbal and floral aroma impressions|
|Sterling||17.64||Citrus, Spicy||Herbal and spicy, with a hint of floral, citrus (lemon/pineapple) characteristics|
|Santiam||17.04||Floral, Spicy, Herbal||Slightly spicy with herbal and floral characteristics|
|Saaz||10.84||Spicy, Tobacco/Earthy||Mild spice and earth tones|
|Yakima Gold||9.55||Mild and pleasant|
|Willamette||7.98||Floral, Spicy||Mild and pleasant, with slightly spicy and floral tones|
|Styrian Celeia||7.15||Floral||Pleasant and hoppy, similar to traditional European varieties|
|Perle (GR)||6.62||Fruity, Floral, Spicy||Delicate floral, fruit, spice and mint tones|
|Admiral (UK)||6.58||Citrus, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal||Pleasant, resinous hop aroma with hints of citrus (orange) and herbal flavors|
|Fuggle||6.54||Fruity, Tobacco/Earthy||Mild wood and fruit characteristics|
|Styrian Aurora||6.53||Floral, Pine||Intense and pleasant displaying floral, pine and hoppy characteristics|
|Amarillo||6.39||Citrus, Floral, Tropical Fruit||Floral, tropical, and citrus (lemon, orange and grapefruit) characteristics|
|Cascade||6.3||Fruity, Citrus, Floral||Medium intense floral, citrus and grapefruit tones|
|Hallertau||5.7||Floral, Spicy, Herbal||Mild and pleasant, yet spicy, with herbal and floral characteristics|
|Tettnang||5.66||Spicy||Noble aroma that is pleasant and spicy|
|Sorachi Ace||5.03||Citrus, Herbal, Grassy||Unique lemon and dill characteristics|
|Horizon||3.51||Floral, Spicy||Pleasant and spicy, with floral characteristics|
|Hallertau (GR)||2.08||Mild, yet spicy, with floral and citrus tones|
|EKG (UK)||1.07||Floral, Spicy, Tobacco/Earthy||Smooth and delicate with floral, lavender, spice, honey, earth, lemon and thyme overtones|
|Perle||1.03||Floral, Spicy, Herbal||Slightly spicy with herbal and floral characteristics|
|WGV (UK)||1.01||Floral, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal||Fresh earthy, botanical and floral flavors|
|Golding||0.71||Floral, Spicy||Mild and delicate with sweet floral characteristics|
|Northern Brewer||0.61||Tobacco/Earthy, Pine||Medium intensity, pine and mint characteristics|
|Liberty||0.55||Citrus, Spicy||Mild and spicy with subtle lemon and citrus characteristics|
|Magnum||0.47||No distinct aroma characteristics|
|Bullion||0.43||Fruity||Strong and zesty blackcurrant characteristics|
|Vanguard||0.35||Floral, Herbal||Herbal and floral tones|
|Summit||0.33||Citrus, Spicy, Tobacco/Earthy||Distinct spice, earthy, onion, garlic and citrus (pink grapefruit, orange and tangerine) tones|
|Cluster||0.31||Floral, Spicy||Strong floral and spicy characteristics|
|Chinook||0.3||Citrus, Spicy, Pine||Distinct, medium intensity spice and pine characteristics with subtle notes of grapefruit|
|Equinox||0.29||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.|
|Triplepearl||0.28||Pleasant and balanced with notes of melon, orange citrus, resin, spice and pepper|
|Nugget||0.26||Spicy, Herbal||Mild and pleasant with spicy, herbal tones|
|Brewers Gold||0.23||Fruity, Spicy||Spicy, fruity characteristics, black currant|
|Columbus||0.23||Citrus, Spicy||Pungent, black pepper, licorice characteristics with subtle citrus overtones|
|Galena||0.22||Citrus, Stone Fruit, Spicy||Spicy, blackcurrant and citrus (grapefruit) tones|
|Glacier||0.21||Herbal||Pleasant hop aroma|
|Millenium||0.21||Floral, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal||Mild and resinous with floral and herbal tones|
|Tahoma||0.21||Citrus, Cedar, Pine||Predominate citrus and lemon notes with cedar, pine, floral, pepper and subtle green melon notes.|
|Brewers Gold (GR)||0.2||Fruity, Spicy||Black currant, fruit and spice characteristics|
|Mt. Hood||0.2||Spicy, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal||Mild, herbal and somewhat pungent or spicy|
|Simcoe||0.2||Citrus, Tobacco/Earthy, Pine||Unique passionfruit, pine, earth and citrus characteristics|
|Palisade||0.2||Stone Fruit, Herbal, Grassy||Apricot, grass and clean floral charcteristics|
|Centennial||0.2||Citrus, Floral||Medium intensity floral and citrus (lemon) tones|
|Herkules (GR)||0.19||Floral||Spicy, floral and hop notes with hints of pine, black pepper and melon|
|Bitter Gold||0.19||No specific aroma characteristics|
|Bravo||0.19||Fruity, Floral||Pleasant fruity and floral aroma characteristics|
|Chelan||0.18||Citrus, Floral||Mild floral and citrus characteristics|
|Ultra||0.18||Floral, Spicy||Mild and pleasant with spicy, floral tones|
|Citra||0.15||Fruity, Citrus, Tropical Fruit||Strong citrus and tropical tones of grapefruit, melon, lime, gooseberry, passion fruit and lychee|
|Crystal||0.12||Spicy||Mild, spicy and floral|
|Ahtanum||0.12||Citrus, Floral, Tobacco/Earthy||Floral, earthy, citrus and grapefruit tones|
|Warrior||0.12||Citrus, Herbal, Pine||Mild and resinous with subtle citrus, pine and herbal characteristics|
|Mosaic||0.12||Citrus, Floral, Grassy||A complex array of tropical fruit, citrus, berry, herbal, earthy and pine characteristics|
|Northern Brewer (GR)||0.1||Floral, Herbal||Medium intense herbal and floral tones|
|Mt. Rainier||0.1||Citrus, Floral, Spicy||Floral and noble aromas, with citrus and licorice overtones|