September 22, 2014

Aurora Hops and Celeia Hops

I am fairly inexperienced compared to many homebrewers when it comes to working with the ever growing array of hop varieties available for brewing. A combination of factors keeps my homebrewing limited to a small but slowly growing group of hops that I have gotten to know well at the expense of getting to play around with all of the wonderful hop varieties available to us. I don't brew hoppy beers very often and I mostly brew small batches these days that require little in the way of hopping. I also like to buy in bulk where I can to reduce the cost per ounce. The problem in trying to select hops to work with is that the descriptions provided by retailers tend to be ambiguous (and provided verbatim from the wholesalers) so it's risky for me to buy a pound of something I might use for a year or two without knowing if I am going to like it. There are reviews around the internet but the further you get from popular varieties the less detailed and clear the reviews become. So I thought I would add some detailed notes on a couple hop varieties I have explored that I found very difficult to find detailed notes on. These are Aurora (sometimes listed asStyrian Aurora, Super Styrian or Styrian Goldings Aurora) and Celeia (also listed as Styrian Celeia or Styrian Goldings Celeia).

Aurora and Celeia are both Slovenian hops born out of the breeding programs in Slovenia that tend to get very little interest. Slovenia has been slowly feeding styrian varieties into the world but they tend to be overwhelmed by interest in new German hops on the European side and all of our American and southern hemisphere hops from the new world. The Slovenian hops unsurprisingly provide good attributes for lagers with smooth bitterness and mellow flavors. However, there are some interesting flavors across the different varieties that make them more useful than just bittering.

Aurora Hops

Aurora was originally known by its name Super Styrian when it was developed in the 70s. It is one of the two most grown varieties in Slovenia (Styrian Goldings being the other). It is a cross of a native wild male and a female Northern Brewer so it is actually unrelated to Styrian Goldings. It shares some of the attributes of Styrian Goldings but unlike Styrian Goldings it is a high alpha hop, which makes it an effective bittering hop. It has low co-humulone, which makes for a smooth bitterness desired in lagers and other European beers. However, it has interesting flavor and aroma attributes that make it an interesting late or dry hop addition.

Aurora features flavors popular in New World hops with a unique twist. Aurora is big on citrus punch, floral notes, pineapple, mango and a heft of spice and herbal character expected out of the styrian family of hops. What makes it unique among many of the desired tropical-flavor hops is that the flavors are undeniably present without being aggressive. The herbal/spicy character helps keep Aurora in check compared to American or NZ/AUS tropical hops that are more assertive. That balancing effect makes Aurora a good beer for lager styles where the brewer wants some of that citrus character without the hops bowling over the malty smoothness. It might be the best hop out there for the new hoppy IPL style. It also works well for saison, pale ales and would do nicely in a mix with other hops in an IPA/DIPA.

Celeia Hops

Celeia, aka Styrian Celeia, is a daughter of Aurora, Styrian Golding and a Slovenian wild hop. Unlike Aurora, Celeia has low alpha and low co-humulone, so it is a suitable hop for European styles looking for a gentle bittering charge without the sometimes pricy cost of noble varieties. Like Aurora, it comes out of the Slovenian hop fields and shares the herbal/spicy/citrus character of the Styrian family.

It is definitely a different hop than Aurora. While Aurora has a well-balanced mix of flavors, Celeia is slightly more aggressive in aroma and flavor. It is also less complex, with assertive notes of lime, floral and an herbal background. The lime and floral dominate, making it an unusual mix of flavors. It's a hop without many great homes, unfortunately. The herbal notes are slightly too noticeable to mix well into a hoppy ale with a fruit forward character but way too fruity for a dank beer. It's too flavor aggressive for many lagers. I suppose it could work well at low volumes. It does ok in saisons when blended with other hops where a little herbal character is welcome among a lot of fruit. It plays acceptably with Aurora although the combination really pushes the floral notes in a way I don't exactly love. A mix with Opal seems to restrain the lime and floral. I am sure other herbal/spicy/grassy hops would help bring Celeia into line with more of a Styrian Golding or Mt. Hood profile.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tasting notes. Aurora sounds promising in an IPL with Sterling and Motueka,

    Celia may be a nice choice paired with Motueka, which has a distinct lime/lemongrass thing going on. This would effectively let you double-down on the lime while possibly getting less of that floral component.