Homebrewing Blog and Resource

The hobby of homebrewing beer

Cluster Hops

I used Cluster hops for my first cream ale a long time ago but didn’t write up a profile for them. I am glad I didn’t at the time since Cluster hops are a variety rich in history…American history.

I needed to take time to research and get the facts straight.

They appear to be a hybrid of the North American wild hop and European varieties brought over by the English and the Dutch in the 1600s. Specifically, the Massachusetts Company brought hops to grow in America in 1629 and 17 years later, they were cultivating hops commercially. During this time, Cluster hops became the first American variety.

Not sure if this is true, but up until the 1970s, Cluster hops were only of a few American varieties being grown commercially here in America. From the data gathered in my other hop profiles, I am guessing this statement is correct. Viva the homebrewing revolution!

Origin: USA

Aroma/Flavor: Spicy, some say “catty”…I guess that means like catnip? Well balanced aromas.

Alpha Acid: 5.5 – 8.5%

Typical Usage: General purpose with an emphasis on bittering

Beer Styles: All American ale and lagers. Good for dark beers with roasty, chocolatey flavors.


Narziss Fermentation


Oxygen Barrier Bottle Caps


  1. No, “catty” as some say means like cat piss. No joke, google “cluster hops” and “cat piss”.

  2. Wow. I can’t believe so many people have tasted cat piss. 🙂

    I couldn’t detect any bad flavors like that when I have used them.

  3. Don

    The timing was right for the Cluster hops and cream ale blog. I looked back in my notes over the last 11 years of brewing and found plenty of Saaz, Hallertau, Kent Golding and Tettanger but only one entry for Cluster. The sad thing is the entry is from 1999 for a porter brewed with wheat with an asterisk that reads “Remember — You loved smell of Cluster hops.” Guess I return to my roots just as I discover your recent blog. Can’t wait to try it again, especially since I’m brewing a cream ale tomorrow.

  4. I assume that they’re talking about the aroma. People are funny though. A lot will quote John Palmer’s comment about oversparging leading to astringency–like “sucking on a teabag”. And I’m thinking who the hell would ever suck on a teabag? And I’m being literal, not dirty.

  5. Don, hope your cream ale turns out well. Please report back on how the cluster hops stack up.

    Señor, we wouldn’t take it any other way. We try to keep it clean.

  6. play nicely with the similar herbaceous flavors of the juist harvested fresh hop flowers used in these beers.
    The tasting includes three IPAs, brewed with Warrior,
    Cascade, and Simcoe hops apiece. Second choices would be Heineken’s Buckler or O’Douls Amber.

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