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Choosing Your Hop Variety

March 28, 2010

The type of hop you decide to grow can depend on many factors, including the hardiness zone you are located in.

Now that you have a general idea of what hops are, it’s time to decide what varieties you are interested in planting.  Of course some hops  Different hops grow better depending on your location, altitude and a few other factors, but with the proper care, you should see great growth from just about any variety if you are between the 30th and 50th parallels, thriving especially in hardiness zones 4 to 8.

Although most varieties will thrive if you are in a temporate region, there are a few variables you should consider when deciding on a variety of hops.  If you are planting your hops simply for their aesthetic value, then you are really free to choose any variety you please.  I would suggest deciding on a variety that will produce large yields and flourish well in your zone.  If you are in an area that sees a shorter growing period, you may want to plant a vine that will develop more quickly, allowing you to enjoy your plants for the longest possible period. Check the variety profiles at the bottom of this post to find the fastest growing varieties.

If you are like me, and are a homebrewing activist who plans on using hops in a homebrew, what you grow will be associated with what kind of beer you plan to brew, and what flavoring roles these hops will play in that brew.  Different varieties will produce cones with very different flavor profiles, as well as alpha and beta acid contents.

Your recipe may call for a specific variety, but you can substitute hops for those with similar AA percentages, so don’t feel entirely restricted to only use the hops specified in your recipe. There are times when specific rhizomes will be unavailable, so you may have to reach a compromise in terms of the variety you plant. Just remember that although using a different variety of hop with similar acid contents will create a slightly different flavor profile, you will maintain the overall structure of your beer. Below is a chart that lists the average AA content of the most common hop varieties.  This should be used as a general guide in deciding what varieties to utilize, should your decision be dependent upon AA content:

Hops Average Alpha Acids
Amarillo 9.5
Aquila 7
B. C. Goldings 5
Banner 10
Bramling Cross 6.5
Brewer’s Gold 9
Bullion 7.5
Cascade 6
Centennial 10.5
Challenger 8.5
Chinook 13
Cluster 6.5
Columbus 15
Comet 10
Crystal 3
Domesic Hallertau 3.9
East Kent Goldings 5
Eroica 12
First Gold 7.5
Fuggles 4.8
Galena 13
Glacier 5.5
Goldings 5
Hallertau Mittelfruh 3.75
Hallertau Hersbrucker 4
Herald 12
Hersbrucker 4
Horizon 12.5
Huller Bitterer 5.75
Kent Goldings 5
Liberty 4
Lublin 4.5
Magnum 14
Millenium 15.5
Mount Hood 5
Newport 15.5
Northdown 8.6
Northern Brewer 8.5
Nugget 13
Olympic 12
Omega 10
Orion 7
Pacific Gem 15
Perle 9
Phoenix 10
Pioneer 9
Pride of Ringwood 10
Progress 6.25
Record 6.5
Saaz 3.8
Santiam 6.5
Satus 13
Simcoe 13
Spalt* 4.5
Sterling 5.5
Sticklebract 11.5
Strisselspalt 3.5
Styrian Goldings 5.5
Super Alpha 13
Super Styrians 9
Talisman 8
Target 11.5
Tettnanger 4.5
Tomahawk 15
Ultra 4.5
Vanguard 5
Warrior 16
Whitbread Golding 6
Willamette 5.5
Wye Target 10
Yamhill Goldings 4
Yakima Cluster 7
Yeoman 7.25
Zenith 9
Zeus 15


I have also found a great hop comparison chart that can give you an idea of how to substitute hops for one another. That chart can be found here.

Because there isn’t a whole lot of information regarding the success of some varieties in my area (Zone 5), I’m going to conduct a bit of an experiment and see what varieties favor this climate.  I purchased 8 varieties, some of which I know should grow very well, and a few others whose success is somewhat unpredictable. I decided on: Fuggle, Williamette, Zeus, Cascade, Centennial, Nugget, Mt. Hood, and Newport. I picked up these varieties for $4.50 each from has provided a wealth of information regarding the known varieties of hops, as classified by the USDA. Click on a variety for a hop profile that can help you decide on which hops are best for your needs.

Ahil 21050
Alliance 66050
AlphAroma 21406
Apolon 21051
Aquila 21222
Atlas 21052
Aurora 21053
Backa 56002
Backa 21080
Banner 21287
Bianca 21698
Blato 21527
Blisk 21238
Blue Northern Brewer 21079
Bobek 21239
BOR 704 21285
Bramling 21284
Bramling Cross 68051
Brewer’s Gold 19001
Brewer’s Gold vf 21116
Buket 21240
Bullion 64100
Bullion 10A, vf 21056
Bullion 6A 21196
Calicross 66054
Canadian Redvine 21679
Canterbury Golding 21681
Cascade 56013
Cascade, vf 21092
Cekin 21613
Celeia 21611
Centennial 21507
Cerera 21612
Chelan (no USDA Nr.)
Chinook 21226
Cicero 21614
Columbus (no USDA Nr.)
Columbia 21040
Comet 62013
Crystal 21490
Defender 62053
Density 62052
Dunav 21081
Early Cluster 65103
Early Prolific 21276
Early Promise 21277
Eastern Gold 21678
Eastern Green 21700
East Kent Golding 21680
Eastwell Golding 21669
Elsaesser 21170
Eroica 21183
Eroica, vf 21220
F-10 (no USDA Nr.)
First Choice 66055
Fuggle 19209
Fuggle H 48209
Fuggle H, v.f. 21650
Fuggle N 21016
Fuggle tetraploid 21003
Furano Ace 21701
Galena 21182
Galena v.f. 21699
Golden Star 21039
Green Bullet 21404
Groene Bel 21216
Hallertauer Gold 21671
Hallertauer Tradition 21672
Hallertauer Magnum 21670
Hallertauer mf 56001
Hallertauer mf 21014
Hallert. mf tetraploid 21397
N.Zealand Hallertauer 21610
Herbrucker 6 21514
Herbrucker 8 21515
Hersbrucker 9 21516
Hersbrucker alpha 21518
Hersbrucker E 21179
Hersbrucker G 21185
Hersbrucker Pure 21673
Hersbrucker red-stem 21517
Horizon 21373
Hueller Bitter 21097
Hybrid-2 21167
Janus 62051
Kent Golding 21680
Keyworth’s Early 21278
Keyworth’s Mid-season 21279
Kirin II 21286
Kitamidori 21677
Landhopfen 21172
Late Cluster, L16 21011
Late Cluster, L8 65104
Liberty 21457
Lubelski-Pulawy 21113
Lubelski-Pulawy,vf 21523
Lucan 21528
Mt.Hood 21455
Nadwislanska 21114
Nadwislanska,vf 21524
Neoplanta 21082
Nordgaard 1478 21215
Northern Brewer 64107
Northern Brewer, vf 21093
Nugget 21193
Olympic 21225
Omega 21667
Orion 21675
Pacific Gem 21609
Perle 21227
Petham Golding 68052
Pocket Talisman 21115
Precoce d’Bourgogne 21168
Pride of Kent 21280
Pride of Ringwood 66052
Progress 66051
Record 21078
Saazer 21077
Saazer 36 vf 21521
Saazer 38 vf 21522
Saazer tetraploid 21534
Saazer Osvald 72C 21532
Saazer Osvald 72C,vf 21538
Saazer Osvald 72Y 21525
Saazer Osvald 72Y, vf 21535
Santiam 21664
Savinja Golding 61020
Saxon 21282
Serebrianka 21045
Shinshuwase 60042
Sirem 21214
SmoothCone 66056
Sorachi Ace 21702
Southern Brewer 21187
Southern Cross 21703
Spalter 21186
Spalter Select 21674
Star 21217
Sterling 21689
Sticklebract 21403
Strisselspalter 21173
Styrian 21049
Sun (no USDA Nr.)
Sunbeam 21697
Sunshine 21281
SuperAlpha 21405
Symphony (no USDA Nr.)
Talisman 65101
Tardif d’Bourgogne 21169
Tettnanger 21015
Tettnanger (Swiss) 61021
Tetnanger A 21496
Tettnanger B 21497
Tillicum (no USDA Nr.)
Tolhurst 21396
Toyomidori 21676
Ultra 21484
Universal 21531
US Tettnanger 21197
Vanguard Sel.Nr. 8251-167 (no USDA Nr.)
Viking 21283
Wye Viking 21283
Vojvodina 21083
Whitbread’s Golding 21668
Willamette 21041
Wuerttemberger 21682
Wye Challenger 21043
Wye Saxon 21282
Wye Target, vf 21112
Yakima Cluster, L 1 65102
Yeoman 21498
Yugoslavia Golding 61019
Zenith 21499
Zeus (no USDA Nr.)
Zlatan 21533

Source: Oregon State University High Alpha Acid Breeding Program

An Introduction to Hops

March 26, 2010

The vine grows in a clockwise direction around its support (as it follows the sun) and may reach up to 25 feet.

Hops are the flowers of the Humulus lupulus vine, a hardy herbaceous climbing plant from the family Cannabacese, sister plant to cannabis. It is a native wild plant of Europe and Western Asia. Today, Humulus lupulus are found most commonly at varying elevations between the 30th and 50th parallels. Hops have been popular over the course of history because of their essential role as an ingredient in beer. They contain bitter oils that have become a staple taste in beer since the 8th or 9th century AD, and balance out what would otherwise be a sweet beverage.  These plants are perennial and once they’re established, they will return each year, and can remain viable for up to 50 years. The vines develop into annual climbing stems, emerging from a perennial crown and rootstock. The stem grows in a clockwise direction around its support (as it follows the sun) and may reach a total height of 25 feet or more in a single growing season. Little hooked hairs on the bines help them attach themselves to the twine or ropes that hop farmers provide, but they are fairly versatile creatures, and will wrap around just about any reasonably rough surface.  The stem dies back to the crown after the hop cones mature, and the weather begins to turn toward winter.

When fully developed, the strobiles are about 1 1/4 inch long, oblong in shape and rounded.

Hops are dioecious, which means that male a female flowers are produced on separate plants. The male flowers are produced in panicles and average about 4 inches in length.  The female flowers are leafy and cone-like structures known as strobiles. The female plant is commercially cultivated for its use in beer, with the male flower being used mainly for pollination. Although the makeup of the hop cone is fairly basic, it is also entirely unique. From a brewer’s perspective, the advantage to hops is the concentrated amounts of specific alpha acids, namely humulone, adhumulone and cohumulone.  These acids offer bittering flavors that can be manipulated during the brewing process to deliver a wide range of desired flavor profiles in beer.



March 24, 2010

Hops!Welcome to Grow Hops! I’m sure if you are visiting you have at least entertained the idea of growing your own patch of one of beers most amazing ingredients.  Whether you are a homebrewer looking to expand into a new realm, a commercial hop farmer, or just an enthusiast, I hope that the information provided here will be relative and useful to however grand your endeavors are.

I have been homebrewing for a few years now, and have developed a fairly extensive setup, allowing me to brew up to 15 gallons of beer at a time.  While exploring the many facets that are included in the homebrewing process, the idea of hop gardening sparked my interest especially. As the growing season approaches, I plan on trying my hand at creating a small garden of hops outside of my family’s beer and wine store in Southern Maine. I hope to chronicle these adventures here and share my discoveries with those who are interested in growing and harvesting their own beer brewing ingredients.