This is the first post in the Hop-epedia Project, where we explore different types of hops, their distinguishing characteristics, and some beers that exemplify them. First up is Columbus hops.
Columbus hops are dual-purpose, meaning they are used for bringing bitterness to beer (balancing out the sweetness) and for imparting the hop’s aroma and flavor. Due to a now-settled intellectual property slapfight, Columbus hops are less commonly known as Tomahawk. This is unfortunate, because clearly Tomahawk is way more badass sounding that the capital of Ohio (and beerbecue is not too fond of Ohio State).
Columbus hops give you a pretty strong aroma and distinct flavor. It is often described as herbal, earthy, spicy, particularly pungent, and, to a lesser extent, citrusy. In fact, its flavor and aroma may remind some that the hop is in the same family as pot (the Cannabaceae family). And of course, beerbecue’s knowledge of this smell is entirely second-hand.
You may also hear references to the Three “C’s”. Columbus is one of them, and the other two are Cascade and Centennial, which generally have more of a citrusy and floral character.
One of the beers that exemplifies the Columbus hop is Avery’s Hog Heaven Barleywine-Style Ale. I have actually heard that the only reason they called this a barleywine-style ale is because nobody had invented term “Double IPA” yet. This thing is a huge hop bomb that lays waste to your tongue like a Mongol horde sewing salt in the fields, poisoning wells, and leaving no eye open to weap for the dead. It is very pungent and resinous, with a fair bit of citrus character. And according to Avery, they only use Columbus hops in this brew.
Update: Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s exemplifies the Columbus hop. You can’t even be in the same room with this beer without being assaulted by Columbus Hops. This is one of my favorite IPAs. Link to my full review/love letter.
Other beers which feature the hop prominently include: Shelter Pale by Dogfish Head (which may be draft only now); Pako’s IPA by Snake River Brewing; although Lagunitas doesn’t reveal their hop content, I swear Hop Stoopid has them; Bear Republic Racer “5”; Green Flash Hop Head Red and West Coast IPA.
As always, feel free to leave comments, insights on aroma and flavor, and beer examples.
Specs From USA Hops Variety Manual (For Columbus, Tomahawk, Zeus)
These three super high alpha varieties are often grouped together and referred to as CTZ. Each of these varieties has alpha acid content of between 14.5-16.5% and share the same female parent as Nugget. Originally bred for their high alpha value, they have also become popular for their oil profile.
Alpha Acids 14.5 – 16.5%
Beta Acids 4.0 – 5.0%
Cohumulone (% of alpha acids) 28 – 32%
Total Oils (Mls. per 100 grams dried hops) 2.0 – 3.0
Myrcene (as % of total oils) 40 – 50%
Caryophyllene (as % of total oils) 9.0 – 11%
Humulene (as % of total oils) 12 – 18%
Farnesene (as % of total oils) < 1.0%
Storage (% alpha acids remaining after 6 months storage at 20° C) 52%
Possible Substitutions Galena, Chinook, Nugget