One exciting outcome of the recent craft beer explosion has been the resurgence of a number of nearly extinct styles and the platform that has provided for the exploration of new practices and ingredients. There has been an especially intense interest in hop forward styles, new hopping techniques, the development of new hop varietals, and reemergence of varietals that had fallen by the wayside.
As a homebrewer (or potential homebrewer) you have a myriad of these new (and heirloom!) hops available to you and an infinite potential for recombination. The first step in utilizing these hops to their potential is coming to know them on an individual basis as hops require a deft hand if they’re to be used in greater relative quantity. Periodically, we will be posting the ‘Hoplight’ as a means of providing you with as much knowledge as possible on certain hop varietals, and remember knowledge is power!
Hops from New Zealand and Australia, often referred to as ‘Southern Hemisphere hops’, are quickly garnering attention from professional and amateur brewers alike. Their unique complement of aromas range the gamut from vinous to tropical to intensely citrusy to noble and it is this breadth of character that has caught the eye of so many hop-heads. The most popular of these fun hops is the Galaxy (Fig. 1) hop from Australia. This hop isn’t just an epic name either, it also contributes a wonderful blend of aromatics that guarantees it will stand out in any beer.
Galaxy’s lineage reaches all the way to Europe with a number of male hop varietals being crossed with various high alpha acid Australian types. Perle was among the hops used in these crosses, although you won’t think ‘German’ when you smell Galaxy. (HPA) Breeding began in the mid-90’s and after an extensive trial period the first crop was harvested in 2009 (Fig. 2). Galaxy experienced immediate commercial success with a number of highly reviewed single hop Galaxy IPAs and Galaxy variants popping up on the market. Half Acre Galactic Double Daisy Cutter, Pipeworks Galaxy Unicorn (Fig. 3), Anchorage Galaxy White IPA (Fig. 4), and Hill Farmstead Double Galaxy are a few.
The high alpha acid content of Galaxy and its extraordinarily unique and pungent aroma allow it to be used as a dual purpose varietal. This hop generally sports 11-16% alpha acid, 5-7% beta acid, and a cohumulone content of 32-42% of alpha acids. (HPA) The list of aromatic descriptors is endless with passionfruit, mango, citrus zest, pineapple, tropical fruit, and orange all being used to describe this hop’s bouquet. Expect a pleasant bitterness when using Galaxy at the beginning of the boil but be sure to save some for the end!
If you’re interested in using Galaxy then try substituting it into your next Pale Ale or IPA or try a small addition at the end of an American Wheat for a tropical punch. The up and coming offerings from the Southern Hemisphere have a lot to offer with their unique and exciting aromatic profiles. So the next time you’re planning a brew be sure to include some hops from down under!
By Ethan Johnston