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I am going to have a hop tasting to try and get a handle on the main varieties and variation of hops. I was thinking of this approach except using the suggestion in the comments of Real Ale's Fireman #4 - I'd much prefer to support a local brewery, and would rather be seen dead than buying Bud light :-)

I am trying to come up with a list of hops. I'm aiming for about 8-9 I think, but two boxes gives me a max of 11+control.

Here is my list so far:

  • Fuggles (US) - I have some in the freezer already
  • Fuggles (UK) - for the terroir comparison
  • East Kent Goldings (UK) - sentimental reasons (*)
  • Saaz (CZ) - A Noble example
  • Magnum - Bittering example
  • Northern Brewer - another bittering example and intrigued by their use in both Anchor Steam and Old Peculier. OP being a favourite - Anchor Steam rather less so!
  • Cascade - a typical West Coast aroma

That's seven. Are there any other broad types that I'm missing out on that I should probably include?

(*) Saw the real things growing (and oasting) in East Kent in the 1990s when the UK was down to three commercial hop farms - and one was managed by my cousin!

  • Keep in mind that unless you boil your bittering examples you won't get any bitterness. and I can tell you from experience that Magnum makes a lousy dry hop IMO. – Denny Conn Mar 4 '15 at 20:00
  • I'm finding the definition of aroma vs bittering to be a very fluid definition! Eg. my Brown Ale kit used Cascade for bittering! Would making a tea work better for the bittering hops? Perhaps boiling in a saucepan for a sustained boil. – winwaed Mar 4 '15 at 21:14
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    First, don't think of hops as aroma or bittering. Although some are closer to one than the other, almost all can be used for both. Sierra Nevada uses Magnum for aroma in Torpedo IIRC. Maybe why I don't care for it! My experience with boiling hops in water is that you get a harsh, vegetal tea even if you adjust the pH of the water. It can be used to distinguish one hop from another, but it's nearly impossible to discern any specific traits from any hop. what you really need to do is make one big batch of wort, split it among different kettles and use different hops in each. – Denny Conn Mar 4 '15 at 21:39
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There are four important regions of hop cultivation: N-America, UK, Continental Europe and Australia/NZ. There is a general assessment that each region is tends towards hops with certain characteristics. Resin, Floral, Spicy and Fruit are the most common, but is not a finite list. That may be a good starting point. A couple from each region I would select are:

Australia/NZ

  • Nelson (NZ): Tropical. Become popular in US recently. Commercial beers include Mikkeller Nelson Sauvin Brut, Anchor's Humming Ale, Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale
  • Ella (Aus): Sweet, Floral. Along with Galaxy (very fruity) are popular in Aussie craft brewing circles.

UK

  • EKG: Sweet, Smooth, Citrus/Lemon, Floral. Defines English Pale Ales.
  • Fuggle: Classic English Hop flavours, fruity, spicy, woody. Used extensively in bitters, porters and English Ales.

N-America

  • Citra: Poster child for craft brewers recently. Commercial beers include Sierra Nevada Torpedo and Oakham Ales
  • Cascade: Citrusy and grapefruit flavours. Classic hop in APAs. Commercial beers include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Continental Europe

  • Hallertau Mittelfruh: Classic German hops used extensively in Bavarian Lagers and Pilsners
  • Saaz: Another of the ‘Noble’ hop varieties. Signature hop of Pilsner Urquell

Good luck with the tasting.

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  • I had the tasting a couple of months back (see my reply to wwhorton). It looks like I missed the Aus/NZ hops, which don't seem to get much mention in my books. Something for future exploration me thinks. Other than the mass-produced lagers, beers from this part of the world are new to me. – winwaed Jul 7 '15 at 3:28
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I'd say Amarillo. It's a west coast hop but not quite as widely used as Cascade. You could try Simcoe, as well, for the same reasons.

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  • Thanks for the followup. We (three of us) had the tasting a few weeks back. We used Fireman's#4. Had trouble with my capper, so ended up decanting to ez-cap bottles - and with only a few days in those, they didn't oxidise or any other problems. We could tell the differences, although in some cases it was "they're different but not sure how to explain it" (eg. UK vs US Fuggles). I did identify "UK Target" as a future substitute for Fuggles in an ESB recipe I've brewed. – winwaed May 3 '15 at 20:53

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