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Sterling Hops: A Symphony of Delicate Aromas and Versatility


Sterling hops, an American-grown hop variety, have been quietly making a name for themselves among craft brewers for their delicate aroma and impressive versatility. With a lineage that includes Saaz, Cascade, and other European hops, Sterling hops offer a symphony of delightful aromas and flavours. Developed in the Pacific Northwest, Sterling hops bring a touch of elegance and complexity to a wide range of beer styles. In this blog post, we will explore the captivating world of Sterling hops, discovering their origins, characteristics, brewing applications, and the harmonious blend of aromas they bring to the craft beer landscape.

Origins and Development

Sterling hops were bred by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and released in 1998. They are a cross between Saaz, an iconic hop from the Czech Republic, and a wild American hop variety. The goal was to create a hop with the delicate and refined qualities of Saaz, while offering enhanced disease resistance and adaptability to American growing conditions. The result was Sterling, a hop variety that has become known for its versatility and captivating aromas.

Characteristics of Sterling Hops

Sterling hops are celebrated for their delicate and elegant aroma and flavour profile. Let’s explore the defining characteristics of Sterling:

Aroma Profile

Sterling hops exude a floral and herbal aroma with subtle hints of spice and citrus. Expect to find gentle scents of wildflowers, lavender, and fresh herbs, reminiscent of their Saaz parentage. These delightful aromas make Sterling an excellent choice for adding finesse to a wide range of beer styles.

Flavor Versatility

Beyond their aromatic attributes, Sterling hops also offer a versatile flavour profile. The hop’s mild bitterness and herbal notes provide a clean canvas for brewers to showcase other ingredients and create beers with complex flavour profiles.

Alpha Acids and Bitterness

Sterling hops have a moderate alpha acid content, making them suitable for both bittering and aroma additions. While not as bitter as high-alpha hops, Sterling’s mild bitterness allows brewers to achieve a well-balanced beer with a focus on delicate aromatics.

Brewing Applications

Sterling hops offer a wide range of brewing applications, providing a harmonious blend of aromas and flavours to various beer styles. Here are some ways Sterling hops can be used in brewing:

Aroma and Flavor Hops

Sterling hops excel as aroma and flavour hops. Adding Sterling in the latter stages of the boil or during whirlpooling enhances the beer’s aroma, infusing it with delicate floral and herbal notes that evoke a sense of elegance and refinement.

Belgian-Style Ales

Sterling hops can be creatively employed in Belgian-style ales. Their floral and herbal qualities complement the yeast-driven flavours found in Belgian beers, adding an intriguing twist to traditional recipes.

Lagers and Pilsners

Sterling hops are well-suited for brewing lagers and Pilsners. Their Saaz-like qualities make them a fitting choice for those seeking to create classic and refreshing lager styles.

Lighter Ales and Wheat Beers

For lighter ales and wheat beers, Sterling hops provide a gentle and approachable hop character that adds complexity without overwhelming the other ingredients.


Sterling hops have quietly established themselves as a versatile and elegant hop variety in the craft beer world. With their delicate floral and herbal aromas, mild bitterness, and adaptability to various beer styles, Sterling hops offer brewers a unique and captivating ingredient to work with. Embrace the symphony of aromas and flavours that Sterling hops bring to your brewing endeavours, and revel in the versatility and finesse they lend to your glass. Cheers to the delightful blend of aromas and the harmonious character of Sterling hops!