Monday, April 27, 2009

Hop Profile: Amarillo

Without any set schedule, every so often I will cover a certain hop: breakdown of the composition, common uses, commercial examples etc. This week, since I'll be brewing a Gumballhead clone, I thought I would start with Amarillo hops. Being one of my favorites, Amarillo is a relatively new hop, and on that is actually trademarked. It was discovered by Virgil Gamache Farms Inc., a crop farm located in the Yakima Valley in Washington state. It has quickly grown to be one of the most used and talked about hop in homebrew circles and commercial breweries. The afformented beer, brewed by Three Floyds is made exclusively with Amarillos as are many of their other beers.
Here is a range for its composition:

Alpha acids: 8-11%
Beta acids: 6-7%
Alpha:Beta Ratio: 1.6
Co-humulone (% of alpha acids): 21-24%

Total Oil (Mls. per 100 grams): 1.5-1.9
Myrcene (as % of other oils): 68-70%
Caryophyllene (as % of total oils): 2-4%
Humulene (as % of total oils): 9-11%
Farnesene (as % of total oils): 2-4%
Unfortunately, I find quite conflicting data here. Oh, the joys of the internet.
I will mix the data, since Yakima Chief labels Myrcene by % of other oils, and is extremely high. Amarillo hops are closely related in composition to Cascade, Cenntennial, Columbus, and Nugget. When discussing the flavor and aroma of Amarillos, most folks will say it's very citrusy, commonly grapefruit and orange. Its usage is fairly dual purpose. Being in the lower third of co-humulone makes it a very clean bittering hop, but it also has a high oil content, so it will come across as very flavorful. Apparently, Amarillos are such a divisive hop, as seen here on Beer Advocate. But, much like Cascade was so bastardized a few years ago, Amarillo seems to be its own bastard cousin.
Other than Gumballhead, some other examples using Amarillo hops are Stone's Levitation Ale, Southern Tier Hop Sun, Clipper City Loose Cannon, and Green Flash Hop Head Red Ale.
As you can see, Amarillos are mostly used pale ales and IPAs since they're very characterful and not especially clean in flavor/aroma. Well, that wraps it up, let me know what info I'm missing, making up or is incorrect.

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