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The Great Hops Oils Explained

Bitterness and Aromas


The resins and alpha-acids found inside hop pellets are accountable for making beer bitter, while the essential oils contribute many of the flavour and aroma characteristics that we, and the craft beer industry love so much. If you drink an IPA with a citrus or pine aroma, you can thank the hop oils for delivering those wonderful sensations. That is also what motivated us, here at Duke 25 Hops to start growing hops.

  • Myrcene – Myrcene is the most prevalent hop oil found in many hop varieties, often comprising 50% or more of the total oils in the hop cone. Myrcene is commonly associated with floral or citrus aromas in beer. Comet and Cashmere Hops are good examples of varieties with very high myrcene content.
  • Humulene – Humulene is the second most common oil, though in some cases it may be in greater quantity than myrcene. It contributes woody, spicy, and herbal characteristics, and tends to withstand high temperature better than myrcene. Many of the European and noble varieties exhibit higher levels of humulene. Some humulene-dominant examples of hops include Mt Hood and Saaz.
  • Caryophyllene– Though usually lower in quantity than myrcene and humulene, It has a distinctive woody and herbal aroma, and often contributes an herbal character to beer. Golding and Triple Perle hops often have higher levels of caryophyllene oil.
  • Farnesene – Farnesene usually represents less than 1% of the oils in the "houblon", though may be as high as 10% or more of the total oil content. But just because it is lower in quantity, doesn’t make it any less potent than the other oils. Farnese usually contributes a woody or herbal character. It is seen in Saaz, and Tettnang.

What is hop oil?

Hops humulus lupulus oil (also known as hop essential oil) is derived from the hop cones, or flowers, of the hop plant, much the way lavender essential oil is derived from lavender flowers. These essential oils generate the familiar aroma and taste related to the hoppy characteristics of beer.

Because these oils are derived from the whole hop cones, they represent the unique and complex combination of chemicals (known as terpenes) that produce the distinct waves of scent for that type of hops.

For example, when Cascade Hops is described as “citrus, spicy and floral” that is the aroma of the hop essential oils, or “total hop oil”, for this variety. Each one of those dominant scents is created by one or more specific hop terpenes found in the Duke25 Cascade plant. These terpenes interact with one another creating the nuanced lemon/lime aroma for Cascade.

 The term “total oil” reflects the amount of essential oil present in a given hop variety. This may range from 0.5 to 4% of the hop cone. Total oil content can be impacted by hop variety, growing location, and other factors. The higher the total oil value, the more aroma potential the variety has.

However, just knowing the amount of total oil alone does not tell you what the dominant scent or flavour of that hop variety will be. To understand what to expect from a specific hop, you need to know which aromas are dominant in the variety. 

In the past, this scent description work was done primarily by people with sensitive noses and a gift for describing aromas. Today, thanks in a large part to the advancements made with cannabis, hop aromas can now be described by their terpene content. 

By knowing which terpenes dominate in the total oil, you can make better choices on how and when to add that hops to your brew and create the American pale ales or hop-forward beer or any beer styles you’ve been chasing.

Health Benefits of The Oil

Reduces Pain

One of the most common applications of hops essential oil is an an analgesic substance. Hops essential oil can provide general sedative qualities, which is why people who suffer from chronic pain of all varieties have turned to hops essential oil in the past. For Its sedative qualities, hops essential oils is commonly used by people suffering from anxiety and mood swings, as it can help to settle stormy minds and calm the body.

Treats Insomnia

Those same sedative qualities make hops essential oil the perfect addition to a treatment for insomnia or sleeplessness. Hops essential oil can be diffused while sleeping and enhance the depth and quality of your slumber so you wake feeling refreshed and energized. 

Reduces Menstrual Cramps

For women, hops essential oil has been linked to a reduction in menstrual pain and cramping, which can be quite severe. Again, the sedative qualities that loosen the muscles and reduce pain are the main reason for this useful application of the essential oil. 

Improves Sexual Performance

For generations, hops essential oil has been used by men to enhance their sexual performance, and more particularly, to extend it. This is a common treatment for premature ejaculation, as it soothes the body and makes certain vital elements less sensitive to sexual stimulation. 

Reduces Respiratory Issues

While inflammation and irritation are the most common reasons for breathing distress, using aromatherapy with hops essential oil can help to soothe those irritated parts of your respiratory tract as well as reduce inflammation. 

Skin Care

Similarly, hops essential oil or hop pellets are known as a natural remedy for psoriasis and skin irritation. The calming nature of hops essential oil functions as an anti-inflammatory and antiviral agent to protect your skin from any possible infections or irritants. 

Hair Care

When used in combination with other natural oils on the hair, hops oils can improve the look and strength of the hair. Thanks to its potent volatile components that interact with hair follicles and natural oils to improve the appearance and health of your hair. 

Eliminates Headaches

Perhaps the most important and effective application of hops essential oil is for tension and headaches. The relaxing effects of hops flowers can loosen even the tightest muscles in your shoulders and neck, while also easing your anxiety and calming your mind.

Hops oil is most often used as a source for pain relief. There is plenty of shops but the best place is to go is your local hop farm to find the best quality hops for sale.

A Final Word of Warning

One of the important warnings for this oil is not to use it if you are already suffering from deep depression. The sedative quality can often exacerbate that mood and emotional direction, which could be dangerous. Furthermore, as this volatile compound is unusually strong for an essential oil, be wary of using hops essential oil if your skin is particularly sensitive or prone to breakouts.

Written on Feb 23rd by Duke25 Hops


Fresh Hop cone

The hop storage index (HSI) is used to evaluate losses of α-acids and β-acids throughout storage and manipulation.

It I is determined from the ultraviolet absorbance measured in the spectrophotometric analysis of hops.

As hops quality deteriorates the HSI increases. HSI is cultivar dependent and can vary year to year. The HSI is also expressed as a percentage of the alpha acids that are lost in 6 months at standard temperature of 68 F (20 C).

So a variety that has a HSI of 25% means that it would lose 25% of its alpha acid content in 6 months if stored at 68F (20 C).

According to Ann Van Holle (2017), HSI levels below 0.30 are an indication of good quality of the plant.

HSI < 0.30 = good quality

0.30 > 0.40 = acceptable quality but the lower the better

HSI > 0.40 = questionable quality


Because harvest timing, temperature, oxygen, and storage duration all affect HSI, quality control during harvest, drying, baling, processing, packaging, and storage is imperative.

Crop should be pelletized as soon as possible after harvest and stored frozen in vacuum sealed, oxygen-free bags to preserve the Iso-alpha acids (IAAs), the main predominant bitter acids in beer derived from the flower/plant.

As hops pellets age, are mishandled or improperly stored, the levels of specific compounds within It change. The acids tend to decrease over time, while deterioration compounds associated with oxidation increase.

During spectrophotometric analysis, acids and degradative compounds can be detected because they absorb light at different wavelengths. Acids absorb light at 325 nanometers and degradative compounds associated with oxidation absorb light near 275 nanometers

 Knowing this now, how to read the HSI when brewing?

You’re using 1 lb of hops of 2021crop purchased at Duke25 hops to brew a nice DIPA. And you notice the "HSI" on the package label.

It says:

  • Cashmere Hops: 0.250 HSI = 25% Alpha of the hop alpha acids will be lost in 6 months at standard temperature of 68 F (20 C).
  • Lemondrop Hops: 0.180 HSI = 18% Alpha of the hop alpha acids will be lost in 6 months at standard temperature of 68 F (20 C).
  • Cascade Hops: 0.400 HSI = 40% Alpha of the hop alpha acids will be lost in 6 months at standard temperature of 68 F (20 C).

The HSI does not tell the whole story however. The flower will age at a much slower rate if stored in cold temperature and in a proper container.

For instance,

As we’ve seen previously, hops with a starting alpha of 10% and HSI of 25% stored for 6 months would lose 25% of its alpha potential, resulting in a new alpha rating of 7.5% if stored at 68F (20 C).

But the same flower stored for 6 months at 28F (-2C) would only lose 10% of its alpha acids leaving it at 9% alpha content.

There is Hop Aging tool you can use online to calculate a particular variation of packaging, temperature and age, and also has the HSI in its database so you can just pick a variety, set your storage conditions and calculate the resulting alpha.

Here’s other examples below:

Magnum at 12% Alpha Acid, 600 days (late 2019 harvest say) stored at -18°C in foil and vac sealed, you get an actual remaining Alpha Acid of close to half, 6.9%

  • 300 days under these storage conditions you have 9.1%. Alpha Acid left
  • 600 days Not sealed or sealed in poly bags 4% left 
  • 600 Days Sealed in barrier packaging, airtight jars, but not free from oxygen 5.3% Alpha Acid

 We hope this helped you out understanding what HSI is and how to use it!

 Cheers! 🍻

Premium Quality guaranteed with Duke25 hops

Our hops are nitrogen-flushed in anti-UV bags right after being picked up and kept in our cold chambers at our farm since day 1 and until It gets to your brewhouse.

Check out for our fresh hops also called "leaf" or "wet hops", every September after after our yearly harvest. We also keep rhizomes hops for sale in spring time.

Whether you're looking at brewing with fresh hops cones, dry hopping or going for a more conventionnel brew, it is great quality ingredients that'll help you brewing the best hopped beers, lager, american pale ales, stouts or any other beer style you are going for. It will bring a great aroma and smooth bitterness.

We own 2 hop farms the biggest one being in Quebec and a small one small "satellite" farm in Nova Scotia. We also have a breeding program that allows to create unique wild varieties such as Drummond, Riel and Wickam.

We offer quick effective and inexpensive shipping everywhere in Canada and the United States. Free w/ any purchase over $35. 

Written on Jan 12th by Duke25 Hops