I decided to learn more about Galena Hops because of the line in How To Brew: It’s the most widely used commercial bittering hop in the US. So I got to thinking, “What do the commercial brewers know that I don’t know?” Here is our profile of Galena Hops!
Origin: USA. It was bred in the great state of Idaho by R. R. Romanko. Its lineage is the variety Brewer’s Gold and open pollination…sweet, free, open pollination. It was bred in 1968 (makes sense with all the free love in the late ’60s) and was made available in 1978.
Aroma: Although used primarily for bittering, some texts did say it could be used later in the boil. Some descriptors were “clean” and “pungent”. Some others were “pleasant” and “citrusy”.
Alpha Acid: Between 10 – 14%
Typical Usage: Bittering. It’s a nice, clean bittering hop that works well with other hop varieties. Since I have learned a thing or two about the business of brewing, getting more alpha acids from less hops is a good thing for commercial brewers. Plus, it apparently has good storage qualities. Some sources I read claimed it retains its alpha acids for a long time (6 months) at room temperatures. Lastly, the variety is noted as dethroning Cluster as the most grown American hop, which is an indication that brewers liked its flavors over the cattiness of Cluster.
High alpha acids + good shelf life + clean flavor = a popular hop variety for commercial brewers.
For homebrewers, Galena Hops would work for American and English style beers. From what I have read from other blogs and in our comments, you may want to use smaller amounts in your boil. Although clean tasting, they can impart a strong bitterness that may be unpleasant.
If you are looking for other bittering varieties, read some of our other hop profiles: