Brewers are lucky enough to get the choice of many varieties of hops, and thankfully home brewers have access to many of them. Some are harder to get in various regions of the world depending on what is grown nearby. Here in the Pacific Northwest it's quite easy to get Cascade and Mt Hood hops, for example. Finding Polish Lubliner hops here, on the other hand, is particularly problematic. This means that sometimes it's not possible to get the exact hop you want for a particular recipe, a fairly common dilemma when it comes to home brewing. Given the immense array of hops out there it's just not possible for suppliers to stock every kind.
Hops are used for bittering, flavor, and aroma in brewing, however, and generally these attributes can be separated from one another. That works to our advantage as brewers because it means we can substitute other varieties of hops in many cases without negatively impacting the final product. If you used a particular hop for bitterting, for example then it probably does not matter as much what the precise aroma of that hop is. You simply need to substitute a hop with a similar alpha acid level.
Likewise, should you be using a hop for aroma, you will want to find a hop with a similar aroma. So how do you figure out what to substitute? This is where we come in. We have prepared a hop information chart that provides guidance for hop substitutions in your brewing process. The chart includes what styles of beer the hop is usually used in, the alpha acid level, the national origin of the hop, and the likely substitutes.
So how do you use it?
- If you're looking to brew something that requires Chinook hops, for example, you look down the left column for the variety.
- In the Substitute column you'll see a list of hop varieties that can be substituted for this variety.
- In the Uses Column you will see how this hop is typically used. If you are using it for bitterness you can also cross reference the alpha acid% column which tells you how bitter the hop is. In this case a Cascade hop is a good substitute in many cases.
Here's the full chart
Armed with this chart it becomes a simple matter of looking up the right information and your hop substitution dilemma is solved! But that's not all this is useful for. This chart can be quite helpful in formatting your own recipes as. You can use the style indicators to narrow your hop decisions down to those most appropriate for the style. Then select for national origin or use depending on your desired style of beer.