Nick Carr on October 12, 2017 0 Comments History of (Wye) Northdown Hops Northdown is sometimes referenced as Wye Northdown in older literature – indicating Wye College, where it was invented. It was a later part of the work first started by ES Salmon; work with the goal of breeding higher alpha acid hop varieties with more disease resistance. Dr. Ray A. Neve took over the Wye breeding program from Professor Salmon in 1953, and in 1961, revamped the program to include the added goal of marrying higher alpha acid content with true “British” hop aromas and less of the “Americanized” aromas. The American hop aromas many British brewers objected to were a natural extension of using American hops as high alpha acid parents for many of the program’s earlier successes, including Bullion and Brewer’s Gold. In his difficult to find, or expensive to buy, book titled Hops, Dr. Ray A. Neve writes the following: “Northern Brewer was chosen as the female parent because it had a better aroma than Bullion or Brewer’s Gold and was less susceptible to downy mildew.” The Northern Brewer female was open pollinated with a downy resistant male, which Neve indicates as coming from the Hop Research Center in Hüll, Germany. Northdown was released to growers in 1971. This hop variety showed good resistance to downy mildew and, though still somewhat susceptible, showed better resistance to downy mildew than its mother. It was a popular hop variety in England for many years, though it was confined to regions where wilt diseases were not an issue. It is no longer a big a player in the British hop scene, at least not like it once was, but it is still a variety worthy of note, especially for anyone brewing an English ale style. Another interesting note: Northdown is the mother of Admiral. The only super alpha variety to be developed in the UK. Northdown Hop Profile & Brewing Tips 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. They may be able to point you toward varieties that grow well in your area. Acid Composition Breakdown Alpha Acid: 7 – 10% Beta Acid: 4 – 5% Co-Humulone: 31% Oil Composition Breakdown Total Oils: 1.2 – 2.2 mL/100g Myrcene Oil: 23 – 26% (of total) Humulene Oil: 37 – 45% (of total) Caryophyllene Oil: 13 – 17% (of total) Franesene Oil: 1% (of total) B-Pinene Oil: ? Linalool Oil: 0% (of total) Geraniol Oil: 0% (of total) Unfortunately, Northdown rhizomes will be near impossible to come by in the U.S., but they are available in the U.K. The closest thing you’ll likely be able to find to Northdown in the United States is Northern Brewer rhizomes. General Characteristics: Growth Rate — Moderate to Vigorous Yield — Low to Medium Cones — Medium to large Maturity — Early to Mid season Susceptible To — powdery mildew, though shows higher resistance than Northern Brewer; also susceptible to Verticillium Wilt. Resistant To — Good resistance to downy mildew; somewhat resistant to powdery mildew. Ease of Harvest — Difficult due to the loose cones. Storage — Moderate; Maintains 60% to 70% alpha acid content after 6 months storage at 68°F. Sensory Description: Aroma is mild sometimes called neutral, but pleasant, delicate, with English character. High amounts of caryophyllene oil give a woody spiciness, often described as piney or cedar-like in this variety. Humulene oil, also found in high amounts, adds an herbal character. Other descriptors include floral and sometimes light fruity berry-like notes. Availability: These may be available in your local homebrew store, but if not there are plenty of online homebrew stores that will have them. Northdown is easier to find in pellet form than whole cone. Use: Northdown was bred as a bittering hop, but its oil content has made it a good dual purpose hop. It has enough alpha umph to see it through as a bittering addition. Its bitterness is often described as rounded, full-bodied, and clean, though some have said it can become harsh if overused. Its oil content makes it a shoe-in for later additions all the way down to dry-hopping. Many hop oils, including caryophyllene and humulene degrade with heat, so if you want to retain more of that classic English herbal woodiness get them in later in the boil or into the fermentor. Northdown can also be of particularly good company to other English aroma hops, such as Progress and Fuggles. Can Substitute With/For: UK Challenger Northern Brewer Common Beer Styles Using (Wye) Northdown Hops: English IPA English Barleywine Amber & Brown Ale Bitter & Extra Special Bitter (ESB) Stouts & Porters Blonde Ale Old Ale Mild Commercial Examples: You’ll note that almost all of the examples below are brewed in Europe and many will be hard, if not impossible, to find in U.S. bottle shops. If any can be found it’ll be Fuller’s. They are a well-known brand in the U.S. and should be pretty easy to come by. At any rate, if you are going to brew with Northdown try to pick up a couple of examples. This, ummm… research will deepen your understanding of how Northdown works in different beer styles and give you a better idea of how to use it in your own homebrewing. Uses Only (Wye) Northdown: Wold Top Bitter from Wold Top Yorkshire Brewery Uses (Wye) Northdown With Other Hop Varieties: Fuller ESB from Fuller Brewery — Also uses Challenger, Goldings, and Target London Pride from Fuller Brewery — Also uses Challenger, Golding, and Target Old Winter Ale from Fuller Brewery — Also uses Challenger and Target Old Ale from Schlafly Brewing Company — Also uses Marynka hops 1965 Special Bitter from Westerham Brewing — Also uses Goldings. (Note: Several of Westerham’s other beers make use of this same combination of hops) Pale Ale from Schlafly Brewing company — Also uses East Kent Goldings and Pilgrim Deception Golden Ale from Trouble Brewing Irish Craft Beer — Also uses Challenger and Cascade Oatmeal Stout from Schlafly Brewing Company — Also uses Marynka Cheers!