Smaragd Hops

Although the name looks like a typo in our language, Smaragd hops are named after the German word for emerald. It makes sense since they are green like the jewel.  Not that other hops are not, I am just saying that the color green may have been on their minds when they decided to name it.

The variety comes from the Hull Research Institute and is grown primarily in Germany. It’s another variety that was bred to have the same aroma and flavor profile as Hallertauer Mittelfrueh but with better resistance to wilt and other diseases that can ruin hops crops.

Another variety that was developed and released around that same time (c. 2002) is Saphir hops, which is now being used as a showcase hop in a number of different beers.  With Saphir as their companion variety, maybe jewels were the naming theme that week (See note about emerald above to make the connection).

There are a number of US hops that are bred from Hallertau and are available as substitutes for that noble variety. Mt. Hood, Liberty, and Vanguard are a few of these hops and you should pick them up if the German versions are not available for your homebrewing needs.

Before you go out and buy a few ounces, read these details about Smaragd hops:

Origin: Germany

Aroma: Floral, fruity nose, maybe spicy, woody, and herbal. These are “noble” hop descriptors. The one that stands out to me is the fruity nose one, which could be the key differentiator.

Alpha Acid: 4 – 6%

Typical Usage: Aroma

Beer Styles: Pilsners, other German ales and lagers, some Belgian styles

If you are looking for a little different hop profile for your next pilsner, pick up a few packets of this hop if you can find them.  Try brewing up a SMaSH beer to really get a sense of what these hops could bring.

Agnus Hops

The Czech Republic has been working on expanding the number of hop varieties that they grow since the mid- 1990s, which is a bit late to the game as compared to other countries.

The hop growers and the government were reluctant to cross-breed and develop new hops since they thought that their first order of business was to put all their focus into maintaining Saaz’s signature spicy aroma and flavor. Times change, profits are sought, and one of the varieties they developed was Agnus hops.

The name of the hops is a tribute to one of the hop breeders at the Hop Research Institute Co. in Zatec that developed the variety; a guy named Frantisek Beranek. If you translate his last name to Latin, it would be Agnus, which happens to be the word for “lamb”. I haven’t tried this out using Google Translate but I will take what I have read as the truth.

Agnus hops were bred from a number of varieties including:

  • Bor
  • Sladek
  • Saaz
  • Northern Brewer
  • Fuggles

The hop was released in 2001 and it was the first one that was bred to be a high alpha acid variety.  Here are more details of the hop variety that you should know before you brew.

Origin: The Czech Republic

Aroma/Flavor: Lots of good descriptors for this one: thyme, lychee, orange zest, green, grassy

Alpha Acid: The range that I saw was from 9 to 15%

Typical Usage: Lagers and German ales. Many sources said that it was a dual purpose hop, but it seemed to have more comparisons to other clean bittering hops like Magnum or Target. I could see this hop being a bittering hop for a Czech (Bohemian) pilsner. You will not have to uses as much as you would using Saaz because of its high AA%.

With all those great descriptors, maybe it would be worth brewing up a single hop brew.

Growing Casade Hops At Home

At least in my backyard, it’s about two thirds of the way through the hops growing season. Not sure if that is true of all hops growing in New England but around the middle of August, sometimes late August, my hop cones will be ready to be picked and dried.

This year, I have a Magnum hop plant that is in its fourth year of growth and I also have a Cascade hops plant in its second year of growth. This morning, I took a few photos, mainly to show how I was growing Cascade hops at home.

The first photo is to show how tall the bines grew this year. I haven’t measured them but I think eighteen feet is a good guess at their height.

Homegrown Cascade Bines

I put up strings up the side of my house and the bines grew right up them. Much to my chagrin surprise were all the shoots that came along in the middle of June with all the little, spiny hop flowers. These are still pretty immature at this point. In about a month, these flowers should turn into cones. I am not sure how big the cones will be. The Magnum cones are pretty big; some are two inches long. The Cascade cones look to be half the size at this point.

Here’s a close up of some of the flowers and the start of a few cones.

Homegrown Cascade Cones

If I am lucky to have a good harvest from the Cascade plant, it will be an experiment to brew with them to see if their signature flavor and aroma will be present from this homegrown version. Depending on how much I have will dictate what beer I brew. I made an award winning blonde with homegrown hops a few years ago so as long as they don’t taste bad, I think I can replicate that beer.

In the fourth year, the Magnum hops are as strong as ever and the yield should be sufficient for a beer recipe. I brewed an Alt last year with them and my brother’s Mt. Hood hops. He looks like he is going to have a great harvest so we’ll just have to make sure we dry them well.

If you look closely, you can see the large Magnum cones hanging out waiting to be picked next month.

Large Magnum Hop Cones

These hops don’t grow in the bunches that the Cascade hops do. I guess it more of a size thing than a quantity thing. I will post something once I harvest them.

Meridian Hops

This hop variety was thought to be another hop variety but it was a mistake.  Let’s learn more about Meridian hops, shall we?

The fine folks at Indie Hops in Oregon made a plan to revive Columbia hops, which were bred from Willamette. They got the fields going and were planning a grand re-introduction of the variety to the public.  After closer examination, they realized they didn’t have what they thought they had.  The hops were brought into a lab for more tests and deduced that they did not have Columbia, but a completely new breed.

With their discovery, they needed a new name.  They branded this variety Meridian because of the name of the rural road that runs past where the hops were grown.   Even though the cones were exactly that they were looking to grow, they were pleasantly surprised and went with it.

Origin: USA – Goschie Farms in Oregon

Aroma/Flavor: Sugary lemon, fruit punch, clean, crisp

Alpha Acid: The pellets I have seen for sale had an AA percentage of 6.7%

Typical Usage: Wheat beers are a good candidate for Meridian hops. The sweet lemon flavors blend well with the grainy, dry taste of a well brewed wheat beer.  May the wheat beer be American, German, or Belgian in style, these hops will be an excellent addition.  Of course, these hops would work in all American pale ales.

With all of these new American fruity hop varieties, I wonder how well they would work in a braggot or honey/malt beverage.  If adding fruits to mead is acceptable, what if you made a mead with hops that impart a fruit punch flavor or other exotic tastes like tropical fruit or white wine?  I can imagine that this combination would make a very tasty beverage.  I will save that idea for another day.

Polaris Hops

In 2012, Polaris hops were released to the world to be used in excellent beers. This profile examines this new variety and some of its interesting characteristics.

This variety is known as a flavor hop.  Flavor hops are a fairly new concept or maybe more appropriately a new label to the brewing world.  When it comes to hops, I think bittering and aroma.  The idea of flavor is one I am trying to get my head around.

Does it refer to when it is added to the boil?

Does it refer to the bold flavors it imparts to a beer?

How much should be used in a 5 gallon batch?

Should it be used with other varieties?  If so, how should it be used?

No matter the answers to those questions, there is one fact that ties the descriptor of flavor to Polaris hops.  They bring a boldness of taste to your brew.

Read the details below:

Origin: Germany – The Hop Research Institute in Hüll

Aroma/Flavor:  The first description I see in sources is a strong fruit flavor.  The other one describes the intense minty note that Polaris brings to beer.  “Glacial mint” was the phrase I kept seeing over and over.

Alpha Acid: 19.0 – 23.0%  It is also interesting to see the total oil that they have which is in the 4 milliliter range per 100 grams of hops.

Typical Usage: Reading the forums and just from my own sense of how these hops would work, I think they would be good to use late in the boil.  Although they have high alpha acids, notes on them used as a bittering hop have been mixed.  I think the minty/fruity notes would be pronounced and pleasant if you dropped the Polaris hops at the end of the boil or dry hopped with them.

Beer Styles: Darker styles would be a good match for this variety.  I am dreaming of a milk chocolate stout with some minty tones in the aftertaste.