NC State Extension

2010-2012 NC Hops Variety Research

Written by Rob Austin. This project was conducted by Rob Austin and Scott King in Soil Science (now Crop and Soil Sciences) and Jeanine Davis in Horticultural Science. It was funded by a GoldenLeaf Foundation grant.

Hops growing in the variety trial in Mills River.

The following are a few of the varieties that were tested at the Experimental Hop Yard in Raleigh and the Research Hop Yard in Mills River. The varieties were chosen based on a combination of pest and disease resistance, vigor, yield potential, and those most popular with local craft and home brewers. Additional information can be seen the Hop Characteristic Table.
Variety Cascade
Pedigree: Open pollination of a Fuggle seedling, derived from crosses between Fuggle and the Russian hop Serebrianker
Description: Very successful and well-established American aroma hop developed by Oregon State University’s breeding program in 1956 but not released for cultivation until 1972.
Aroma: Flowery and citrusy. Can have a grapefruit note.
Pests and Disease: Good crown and cone resistance to downy mildew, partly tolerant to Verticillium wilt. Prone to insects, especially Aphids.
Uses: American-Style Ales, especially Pale Ale, IPA, Porter, Barley wines; Can also be used in Witbier.
Variety Willamette
Pedigree: Open pollination of a Fuggle seedling, derived from crosses between Fuggle and the Russian hop Serebrianker
Description: Developed by the USDA hop breeding program in 1976, Willamette is a triploid (three complete sets of chromosomes – nearly sterile hop) seedling of Fuggle bred to be easier to grow in the United States. It’s less vigorous than most modern hop varieties but easier to grow in most areas and less picky than Fuggle.
Aroma: Mild, grassy, floral and slightly spicy aroma similar to Fuggle
Pests and Disease: Fair resistance to downy mildew. Susceptible to Verticillium wilt. Some susceptibility to powdery mildew.
Uses: All English-style Ales, and US Pale and Brown Ales
Variety Mt. Hood
Pedigree: Mount Hood is a cross between a tetraploid Hallertauer and an unnamed aroma variety derived from Early Green.
Description: Mount Hood is an aroma variety with marked similarities to the German Hallertauer and Hersbrucker varieties. Mount hood is a triploid that was released in 1983 as part of a program attempting to develop an American substitute for Hallertauer Mittelfrüh.
Aroma: Mild and clean aroma and flavour, excellent for finishing European lagers.
Pests and Disease: Moderately resistant to downy mildew.
Uses: Lager, Pilsner, Bock, US Wheat, Alt, Munich Helles
Variety Northern Brewer
Pedigree: Bred in England in 1934 from a cross between a female hop of wild American parentage and an English male.
Description: Northern Brewer is a true dual-purpose hop, containing moderate amounts of alpha acids combined with a good aroma profile. In the United States it is best known for its use in Anchor’s Steam Beer, and is often used in other beers of the same style. It is a major alpha hop in Germany, but has limited acreage in the US.
Aroma: Mild and clean aroma and flavour, excellent for finishing European lagers.
Pests and Disease: Susceptible to downy mildew, no strong virus reactions. Has resistance to aphids and mites.
Uses: Lager, Pilsner, Bock, US Wheat, Alt, Munich Helles
Variety Sterling
Pedigree: Bred in England in 1934 from a cross between a female hop of wild American parentage and an English male.
Description: Sterling is a relatively new diploid aroma variety (released in 1998), developed from Saaz, Cascade, Brewer’s Gold, and Early Green. It is considered to have a very good noble hop profile and is often recommended as a substitute for Saaz.
Aroma: Herbal, spicy, lightly citrusy character
Pests and Disease: Moderately resistant to downy mildew
Uses: Pilsner and other Lagers, Ales and Belgian-Style Ales
Variety Centennial
Pedigree: Selected from a cross between Brewer’s Gold and a selected USDA male.
Description: Sometimes called a super Cascade, Centennial was bred in 1974 but not released until 1990. It has a floral, citrus aroma and a clean spicy flavor. Centennial is named for the Washington State Centennial Celebration and at one time was planned to be destroyed for lack of interest by the world’s major breweries. Today it has a very favorable following by craft-brewers.
Aroma: It has a floral, citrus aroma and a clean spicy flavor
Pests and Disease: Moderately resistant to downy mildew and Verticillium wilt.
Uses: All US Ale styles, has been used with US Wheat beers
Variety Chinook
Pedigree: Derived from Brewer’s Gold, with contributions from Early Green, East Kent Golding, and others.
Description: Released in the US industry in 1985 and has since becoming increasingly popular with craft-brewers. Chinook is a high alpha acid hop with an acceptable aroma profile. It is used in stouts and porters for its heavy spicy aroma.
Aroma: Medium intensity, spicy, piney, distinctive grapefruit
Pests and Disease: Moderately resistant to downy mildew. Not excessively sensitive to insects.
Uses: US Style Pale Ale, IPA, Stout, Porter, Barley Wine, and Lagers (Bittering)
Variety Nugget
Pedigree: Selected from a cross between Brewer’s Gold and contributions from Early Green, East Kent Golding, and others (1970).
Description: Released in 1982 and now a major high alpha acids variety in the US. Also grown in Germany.
Aroma: It has a Herbal aroma with a smooth but somewhat heavy, herbal, spicy bitterness.
Pests and Disease: Moderately resistant to downy mildew and Verticillium wilt. Not excessively sensitive to insects.
Uses: US Style Pale Ale, IPA, Stout, Porter, Barley Wine, and Lagers (Bittering)
Variety Zeus
Pedigree: Columbus & Tomahawk and Sun are sisters of Zeus
Description: A super high alpha acid bittering hop from Washington state, a sister to Sun most likely derived from Northern Brewer. Sometimes listed as CTZ – Columbus, Tomahawk, Zeus.
Aroma: Floral Aromatic
Pests and Disease: Moderately resistant to downy mildew and Verticillium wilt.
Uses: Considered a replacement for Columbus/Tomahawk.
Variety Newport
Pedigree: One of the newest varieties to be released in the US(Year 2002). Open pollination with Brewers Gold, Hallertauer ‘Mittelfrüh’, Late Grape, Belgium, and Fuggle
Description: The uniqueness of Newport is its high bittering potential coupled with excellent yields and resistance to both powdery mildew and downy mildews. It’s a super high alpha acid hop
Aroma: Mild with an earthy and grassy tone, somewhat similar to Fuggle.
Pests and Disease: Resistance to both powdery and downy mildew.
Uses: Currently used by Rouge Brewery, Newport, Or. US Style Pale Ale, IPA, Stout, Porter, and Barley Wines

Written By

Photo of Jeanine Davis, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDr. Jeanine DavisExtension Specialist, Herbs / Organics / Specialty Crops / Vegetables (828) 684-3562 jeanine_davis@ncsu.eduHorticultural Science - NC State University
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