Nick Carr on February 21, 2020 0 Comments Mention hops, and the Czech Republic and most brewers would immediately think of Saaz. There’s little question Saaz is their star player on the ever more crowded field of hop varieties. But, the Czech Republic has developed and released a number of other hop varieties, especially over the last twenty years or so. Kazbek is the first aroma variety developed in the Czech Republic. History of Kazbek Hops Hop farming in the Czech Republic has a long history. The earliest written evidence of growing hops in the region comes from the 8th and 9th century. Though Kazbek was registered in 2008, its selection actually goes back to a 1984 hybridization between the Bor variety and wild Russian hops from the Caucasus Mountains. Its name, Kazbek, ties it to this wild heritage. Mt. Kazbek is a dormant stratovolcano and the seventh highest peak in Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains. The female parent, Bor, is a Czech dual purpose hop, originating from a Northern Brewer female that was open pollinated by Saaz. Genetically, Kazbek belongs to the group of high alpha cultivars originating with Brewers Gold, which also happens to be the variety it is most genetically similar to; while the most similar Czech variety is Agnus. Its profile is often compared to Saaz, but much stronger, earning it the nickname “Super Saaz.” Kazbek has the highest yield of any Czech variety at 2 to3 tons per hectare of cultivated land and the land dedicated to it has grown every year since its release in 2008. How To Brew With Kazbek Hops If you plan on growing hops in your backyard, we would make a few recommendations to help you in your endeavors. Before you choose the variety you want to grow, it is a good idea to talk to other local growers or possibly someone at your local homebrew supply store. They may be able to point you toward varieties that grow well in your area. Kazbek hops are registered under national plant variety rights and protection, so rhizomes and plants are not available to those wishing to grow it as part of a home garden. However, there are plenty of other varieties readily available for the gardener/homebrewer. Check out our other hop profiles to get an idea of some hop planting possibilities. General Characteristics Country of Origin: Czech Republic Growth Rate: Vigorous; Massive circular growth habit; red-green bines Yield: Very Good (2.1 to 3.0 tons/hectare) Cones: Elongated; Medium Density Maturity: Late Season Resistant to: Tolerant to downy mildew and powdery mildew Ease of Harvest: Good Storage: Fair to Good Acid Composition Breakdown Alpha Acid: 4.0 – 7.0% Beta Acid: 4.0% – 6.0% Co-Humulone: 35 – 40% Oil Composition Breakdown Total Oils: 0.9 – 1.8 g/100g Myrcene Oil (% of total): 40 – 55% Humulene Oil (% of total: 20 – 35% Caryophyllene Oil (% of total): 10 – 15% Franesene Oil (% of total): <1% Linalool Oil (% of total): 0.3 – 0.5% (floral) Geraniol Oil (% of total): 0.1 -0.15% (below average) floral Aroma & Sensory Description Kazbek’s profile is much like Saaz, but more intense. It often has a dominant citrus element note, described as spicy lemon or grapefruit. Underlying herbal and earthy notes of lemon balm and mint adds the noble hop character. Its bittering contribution is considered clean. Availability Kazbek hops aren’t too hard to find in the U.S. though it’s not a variety your local homebrew shop probably carries regularly. If you want to give them a try, your best shot is ordering from a larger online homebrew retailer. Amazon may even have them available from a couple sellers. As with most imported hops, you’ll mostly find this variety in pellet form. However, Hops Direct does have them in their list of imported leaf hops even though they are not available right now. So you might run across them in whole cone form every so often if you search long enough. No doubt, these are a lot easier to get if you happen to be living in Europe. Use Kazbek is generally considered an aroma and flavor hop. It’s used both in the U.S. and Europe as a late boil or dry-hopping addition. It may work especially well by complementing light bittering hop like Brewers Gold. Dry-hopping for 2 to 4 days can really bring out Kazbek’s floral and fruity notes. According to brew tests and some tasters, bitterness and flavors become harsher as dry-hopping time increases. Can Substitute With/For These Hops: Saaz Sterling Common Beer Styles Using Kazbek Hops: Pilsners Lagers Belgian Ales Bitters Wheat Ales Pale Ales Saisons Commercial Examples To help you gain a better idea of this hop’s aroma and flavor I would recommend you sample as many of these as you can find. This “research” will deepen your understanding of how Kazbek works in different beer styles and give you a better idea of how to use it in your own homebrewing. Uses Only Kazbek: Rock The Kazbek from Redemption Brewing (UK) O Brother, Where Art Brau? from Barley & Hops Brewing (USA) Kazbek Rye Porter from Canterbury Ales (UK) Bohemian Ale from Seedstock Brewing Company (USA) Nit Wit from Dew Point Brewing Company (USA) Uses Kazbek With Other Hop Varieties: Kazbek Vienna Lager from Birrificio Indipendente Elav (Italy)- also uses Columbus American Cream Ale from Olivi (Finland)- also uses Monroe and Fantasy I’m Sorry from Off Color Brewing Company (USA)- also uses Sterling Lobeč Ale from Lobeč Brewery (Czech Republic)- also uses Permiant, Cascade, and Amarillo (The brewery uses Kazbek in several of their beers). “Hoppy” Brewing!