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US vs. German vs Australian Flavour Hops

The two largest growing areas for hops are the United States and Germany. For many years, USA and Germany competed for the “world’s largest hop growing region”, i.e. the largest area of hops grown or “the most hops harvested in the world”, i.e. the amount in metric tons of hops harvested. Australia on the other hand, is one of the smallest hop growing countries in the world and has some famous varieties. We published all of these numbers in the Barth Report 2016-17, so please take a look. Also in this report, it is indicated that 262 hop varieties were traded in the hop market!

The following table shows the most important Flavour varieties from Europe, USA and Australia:

 

Important Flavour Varieties

EuropeUSAAustralia
Ariana Amarillo®Ella™
Barbe RougeAzacca™Enigma™
BouclierCalypso™Galaxy™
Callista CascadeTopaz™
CometCashmereVic Secret™
Hallertau BlancCentennial
Huell MelonChinook
KazbekCitra®
Mandarina BavariaComet
MonroeCrystal
PolarisDenali™
RelaxEkuanot™
Styrian CardinalEl Dorado®
Styrian KolibriJarrylo™
Mosaic®
Simcoe®
Sorachi Ace
Tahoma
Triple Pearl
In this table you can see the most important flavour varieties from Europe, USA and Australia

 

Before we go any further, let’s talk about flavour hops. Flavour hops are used for their aroma characteristics and are not restrained by the traditional aroma and bitter definitions. It can also be said that flavour hops are mainly based on the place in the brewing process where they are used. Flavour hops are dosed mostly in the whirlpool and/or for dry hopping.

 

Cones of the variety Citra, before harvest

 

The United States is the forerunner with the largest variety of hops at 87. Almost 37% of all US hops are flavour. The reason for this huge variety is the thirst for new varieties mostly from the craft brewing community and their passion for IPAs. Additionally, there are many private breeding programs as well as farmers that have been working on breeding new varieties for multiple decades. A closer look at some of the big flavour varieties are listed below:

  • Citra® – Bred by JIH retired breeder Gene Probasco and part of the Hop Breeding Company’s (HBC) hop portfolio, this is one of the most in demand hop at the moment. It contains unique characteristics of gooseberry, lemon, lychee and geranium in beer.
  • Simcoe® – A standard in many American pale ales and IPA, this hop is usually characterized as having strong pineapple and resinous qualities. Additionally, we have profiled this hop also of blackberry, grapefruit and cassis.
  • Mosaic® – Also bred by HBC is the daughter of Simcoe and its flavours prove this fact. A multitude of aromas are present in this hop variety including strong mandarin orange, grassy and peach.
  • Ekuanot™ (f.k.a. HBC366) – This variety follows in Mosaic’s footsteps. It was released two years after Mosaic and it contains strong tropical aromas – paypaya, guava and green pepper.
  • El Dorado® – Relatively new hop variety that has made its way into many new hoppy beer styles, this variety was bred and released by CLS Farms in Yakima. Popular today in the New England IPA style and contributes tropical fruit, watermelon and stone fruit to beers.
  • Azacca™ – Part of the American Hop Dwarf Association (ADHA) breeding program, these hops grown on short trellises to ease in harvesting. Also, these varieties pack a powerful aroma punch with pear, mango, and pine.
  • Amarillo® – One of the more well-known varieties that was released by a hop farmer, Virgil Gamasche, this varieties has been on the market for over 14 years! It has since then experienced a huge expansion of craft beers with its peach, melon and apricot aromas.
  • Classic “C” hops – Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Crystal, Comet, (Citra®), etc.

The pure flavour spectrum of these varieties leaves a lot to play with in hoppy beers of all styles: session beers, pale ales, IPAs, American barley wine, imperial stout, etc.!

The United States is definitely the forerunner for the most flavour hops in one growing country and not far behind is Germany. With its long tradition of growing hops (the first record of growing hops was in Geisenfeld in 736) and many landrace varieties that are world-renown fine aroma hops used in traditional recipes (Spalt, Hersbruck, Tettnang, Hallertau Mittelfrüh, etc). In recent years, the German Hop Research Center in Hüll has increased its efforts in breeding specifically for flavour hops. They have released six different flavour hops in the last five years. Three can be grouped together as German and US hybrid hops, Cascade female crossed with a German male. Also, there have been efforts in the private breeding field by mainly one farmer in the Hallertau.

 

Hop field in the Hallertau

 

  • Mandarina Bavaria – After five years on the market, this is the most popular of these three. The hop’s aroma is exactly what is in the name: orange citrus as well as gooseberry and pineapple.
  • Hallertau Blanc – Typically this would be a bitter variety at between 9-12% alpha acid, depending on the harvest. This flavour variety dominates with lemon grass and is followed by white wine grapes (think Sauvingnon Blanc!) and grapefruit.
  • Hüll Melon – Named after where the variety was “born”, the village of Hüll is where the German Hop Research Center is located. It is typified by a marked strawberry, honeydew melon and caramel note.
  • Polaris – Also released with the afore mentioned hops, the alpha acids for this variety reach up to 21%! Famed for its typical mint-like flavour (or in German “Gletschereis”), the hop also shows strong woodruff and banana aromas. Its alpha acids are so high, it is also being used as a bittering hop.
  • Ariana – Just released in 2016, Ariana is only grown on a few plots in Germany. Bred using Herkules as a mother, this variety is full of fruity flavours like strawberry, grapefruit and quince.
  • Callista – Released at the same time as Ariana, this variety contains a low alpha acid content of around 2-2.5% but average to above average amount of hop oil of 1.3-2.1 ml/100 g, which makes this hop so special. Aromas of blackberry, gooseberry and mango can elevate the flavour in beer and also bring a strong resinous flavour in the body.
  • Monroe – This is one of the very few varieties that was bred in a private breeding program. Also low in alpha acids but it packs a punch with flavours of cherries, orange syrup and strawberry.
  • Relax – A tea company was responsible for bringing this hop to the market! Again in Hüll, the hop breeders created a variety with very little alpha acids of 0.5-1% for using it in tea. Fortunately for us, it still made tea bitter, but now it is mainly used for beer. Perfect for whirlpool and dry hopping additions, honeydew melon and lemongrass dominate.

As you can see, there is a lot to play around with and all of these should be used to differentiate beers!

After these two powerhouses of the hop industry, we come to the rock star of the hop industry, the hop growing area with a small amount of hectares but varieties that are sought-after all the world over. Hop Products Australia (HPA) grows almost exclusively flavour varieties. The company itself completely owns and operates hop facilities from breeding to packaging. The area is only 631 hectares and represents 3.1% of the US hectarage and 3.4% of the German hectarage! Here are the varieties:

  • GalaxyTM – Released in 2009, this variety is used in many popular beers that will most likely find strong fruit and berry notes of cassis, blackberry and blueberry. Hard to find any replacement for this one, which is why it can be hard to come by in the brewing world. Its genetic make-up is a combination of female from Australia and a male European background.
  • TopazTM – This is one of many varieties that resulted from the need for high-alpha hops in the 80s. The variety can contain up to 17.7% alpha, but is prized for its unique aromas of passion fruit, grapefruit and blackberry, depending on where the hops are used in the brewing process.
  • EllaTM – This variety, used to be named Stella, was found in 2001 to have unique brewing and agronomic qualities. Also a flavour variety with a high amount of alpha, in its aroma this variety shows a lot of floral notes like lavender and also citrus, and bergamot oil.
  • EnigmaTM – This is the newest hop to the HPA family commercially being released in 2015. Bred from Tettnanger genetic material, this variety shows wonderful raspberry, red currant and tropical fruit aromas.
  • Vic SecretTM – This hop’s sister is Topaz from the same genetic material. Released later though in 2013, this variety contains aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and passion fruit.

 

Hop Cones of Ella

 

From these three countries, most all of the hoppy beers being produced have some of these hops from these important growing areas. Look at our website at http://barthhaasgroup.com for more information about the different varieties and their individual components.

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