I thought it would be interesting to look at the data I have for 60 hops from the 2014 hop crop to try to determine which hop is the most neutral. To do this I used only the hop oils information (B-Pinene, Linalool, Myrcene, Caryophyllene, etc.) ignoring the alpha and beta acid content to focus only on the flavor and aroma aspects of the hop, which is what I’m the most interested in. To do this, I calculated the median value for each hop oil category across all 60 hops, which gives us the middle value for each hop oil (results below).

Median Hop Oil Values

B-Pinene Linalool Myrcene Caryophyllene Farnesene Humulene Geraniol Other
0.65% 0.56% 43.82% 9.42% 0.34% 21.45% 0.22% 19.90%

So according to the above median calculation, of the 60 hops in the database, the most middle of the road hop would have a theoretical oil composition of what the chart above shows. Of course there isn’t a hop with the exact makeup of what the median values show so I took the values from this theoretical hop and correlated them to each hop in the database (results below). The thought here is that by doing this we can then find the hop that is the most similar to the theoretical median value hop.

Highest Correlated Hop

Variety B-Pinene Linalool Myrcene Caryophyllene Farnesene Humulene Geraniol Other
Median Hop 0.65% 0.56% 43.82% 9.42% 0.34% 21.45% 0.22% 19.90%
Millennium 0.65% 0.55% 44.55% 9.26% 0.21% 22.20% 0.13% 22.46%

The result is Millennium, which makes sense when you look at the rankings information for the hop I pasted below, you can see it’s near the middle for each oil category. The description of the hop seems to fit a neutral label as well. Millennium is described as being mild and has flavor/aroma descriptors of resinous, floral, and herbal. Sounds like a pretty neutral hop to me, one with a mild flavor that extends across some of the typical aroma wheel categories we generally associate with hops.


Mild and resinous with floral and herbal tones

Aroma Wheel Placement(s):
Floral, Tobacco/Earthy, Herbal

Oil Percentages and Rankings
B-Pinene: 0.65% (29 of 58)
Myrcene: 44.55% (27 of 58)
Linalool: 0.55% (32 of 58)
Caryophyllene: 9.26% (30 of 58)
Farnesene: 0.21% (39 of 58)
Humulene: 22.20% (29 of 58)
Geraniol: 0.13% (45 of 58)
Other: 22.46% (21 of 58)

The lower the ranking, the higher the content of acid/oil

So what exactly does this tell us? I don’t know, maybe nothing. Maybe it’s possible that hops like millennium would be great choices to use when blending hops. They might act as a kind of a middle of the road buffer that won’t stand out much on its own, but help bridge the gap between conflicting hop varieties. Maybe these neutral hops like millennium might help tame the aggressive nature of certain hop varieties to help get a beer into a targeted aroma/taste range. For example, millennium might be a good choice to blend with citra if you want to reduce the huge tropical flavors without losing that quality all together. Then again, maybe not!

If we take this same approach a step further and look at what other hops would correlate closest to our theoretical median neutral hop, we get the following top 10 list. I’m glad to see Simcoe made the list as I’ve had great success using Simcoe as a blending dry hop in many of my favorite homebrewed beers; maybe there is something to this?

Top 10 Most Neutral Hops

Variety Correlation B-Pinene Linalool Myrcene Caryophyllene Farnesene Humulene Geraniol Other
Median Hop 1 0.65% 0.56% 43.82% 9.42% 0.34% 21.45% 0.22% 19.90%
MILLENNIUM 0.999 0.65% 0.55% 44.55% 9.26% 0.21% 22.20% 0.13% 22.46%
GR Herkules 0.994 0.64% 0.27% 44.25% 7.14% 0.19% 25.62% 0.16% 21.73%
BULLION 0.993 0.76% 0.74% 49.11% 10.95% 0.43% 18.84% 0.21% 18.98%
CRYSTAL 0.993 0.67% 0.90% 44.67% 7.34% 0.12% 26.58% 0.59% 19.14%
Nugget 0.991 0.67% 1.02% 51.15% 9.07% 0.26% 18.80% 0.07% 18.97%
SIMCOE® YCR 14 CV. 0.99 0.78% 0.61% 50.35% 8.72% 0.20% 17.42% 0.66% 21.25%
Newport 0.987 0.79% 0.49% 52.21% 9.24% 0.41% 17.32% 0.20% 19.37%
Summit™ 0.986 0.67% 0.33% 41.41% 12.85% 0.33% 19.21% 0.30% 24.92%
MT. HOOD 0.985 0.65% 0.83% 41.97% 12.49% 0.20% 26.80% 0.26% 16.81%
Cluster 0.985 0.67% 0.46% 43.69% 8.45% 0.31% 18.82% 0.83% 26.78%

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The New IPA: Scientific Guide to Hop Aroma and Flavor

In the NEW IPA, Scott Janish scours through hundreds of academic studies, collecting and translating the relevant hop science into one easily digestible book. Through experiments, lab tests, discussions with researchers, and interviews with renowned and award-winning commercial brewers, the NEW IPA will get you to think differently about brewing processes and ingredient selection that define today's hop-forward beers. It's a must-have book for those that love to brew hoppy hazy beer and a scientific guide for those who want to push the limits of hop flavor and aroma!

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