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As someone who has brewed numerous Pale Ales and IPAs using different hops, I’m always looking to improve my own recipes and help others expand their homebrewing knowledge. This led me to try Apollo hops to find out if they work well in homebrewed ales.
I have found Apollo hops to be an excellent high-alpha bittering hop, especially if I want to create pale ales and IPAs with a smoother finish. I find that it provides an outstanding bitterness level, and the orange and grapefruit flavors combined with a pine aroma are very pleasant on the nose.
In my Apollo hops guide, I will explain everything you need to know about this type of hop, including its flavor profile, why it is generally only used as a bittering hop, and the types of ales that I enjoy making with Apollo.
I’ll also list some alternatives to Apollo hops that you can use that I think have similar bittering and aromatic qualities.
Bottom Line Up Front
When making IPAs and pale ales, I think Apollo hops are an ideal bittering hop due to their high alpha content. I like the fruity, pine, and grassy flavors; however, I don’t think Apollo performs great as an aroma hop.
My advice is to stick with Apollo for bittering pale ales and IPAs and bring in more robust flavors by combining it with hops such as Simcoe, Cascade, or Citra.
Pros and Cons of Apollo Hops
- High alpha percentage means this hop works great for bittering
- It has a pleasant aroma with fruit, pine, mild citrus, and grassy flavors
- This hop can help make great-tasting ales and IPAs
- I don’t think this hop is ideal for adding aroma to ales.
History of Apollo Hops
Apollo hops came onto the brewing scene back in 2006.
Hopsteiner initially bred the hops with Zeus and a male hop in 2000, and due to Apollo’s high alpha-acid content, it is normally used as a bittering hop.
I used to find it quite difficult to get my hands on Apollo hops, and generally, I also thought they were pretty expensive compared to other hops that can do a similar job. However, in recent years, this hop has become more widely available, and I have been able to pick up Apollo for my homebrews a bit easier.
I’m not a massive fan of using Apollo purely for its flavors, as I think this hop works far better as a bittering hop combined with aroma hops at the end of the brewing process.
However, even though I wouldn’t use this hop solely for flavoring homebrews, I like some of the aromas you get with Apollo. I have picked up some strong citrus notes, although I don’t think this is nearly as strong as other hops such as Citra and Simcoe.
Some different flavors I’ve discovered with Apollo include orange and grapefruit, and some pine and grassy aromas are also in there.
I don’t think Apollo has particularly bad flavors, but the high-alpha content combined with a low co-humulone percentage, in my opinion, makes it ideal for bittering rather than adding aroma to your homebrews.
In saying that, I think you can potentially use this hop towards the end of the boil, but I would advise adding at least one other hop to create a more rounded flavor.
How to Grow Apollo Hops
You can grow Apollo hops if you wish, and, as far as I am aware, there are no restrictions on these hops. Some hop varieties I have come across do have certain limitations. For example, Mandarina hops are protected by plant property rights in the EU, so you can’t grow this hop at home.
I think the wider availability of Apollo hops these days compared to even a few years ago negates the need to get ahold of Apollo rhizomes and grow them yourself. However, I appreciate that many people enjoy growing their own hops and using them in various homebrews.
Something I have discovered with Apollo hops is that they are pretty easy to grow. The hop is resistant to downy mildew, and Apollo has a good disease intolerance. I’ve found that these hops have a reasonable growth without being too intrusive, so you won’t need a ton of space in your garden to grow Apollo hops.
Also, Apollo stores well compared to many other hops, so you can easily use them months down the line to bitter your IPAs and pale ales.
If you are thinking of growing Apollo hops or any hop variety, read my guide on how to grow hops. This will give you a better idea of going about this process.
What Kind of Beers Can You Make from Apollo Hops?
I think that Apollo hops are pretty limited in the homebrews you can make. I don’t mean that you can’t use Apollo hops to create some tasty brews, but compared to the like of Columbus, which works in many types of beers and ales, I would only use Apollo for bittering in pale ales and IPAs.
You may have read my previous guide on Engima hops, and I think Enigma has many of the same limitations for homebrewing as Apollo.
I’m a big fan of using Apollo hops in an IPA, and I think this is definitely one type of homebrew you can use Apollo to significant effect.
The subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle bitterness that I really enjoy in an IPA makes it an ideal homebrew for Apollo hops. I have come across homebrewers that use Apollo at any stage of the brewing process, including to add flavor.
While I think that it mainly works best to add a smooth bitter taste to a homebrewed IPA, the citrus, piney, spicy, and hints of marijuana can work if you want to use Apollo as an aroma hop.
If you are thinking of using Apollo to add flavor to an IPA, combine it with another hop such as Cascade for its more robust grapefruit flavoring. I reckon you could also add in Simcoe or even Citra to bring out more intense flavors too.
The other type of beer I think you can use Apollo with is a pale ale.
I don’t think Apollo would work great in lagers or other types of beers, and I think its primary purpose for bittering means a pale ale is the other natural homebrew this hop is suited for.
I prefer my pale ales to be less bitter than IPAs, and you can get a smoother and subtle bitter taste from Apollo by using less of this hop.
Again, you can combine Apollo with other hops to create a more robust flavor profile in a pale ale. In my opinion, one of the best pale ales I have tasted used Apollo hops for bittering combined with El Dorado hops with their heavy flavors of mango, pineapple, and tropical fruits.
When I started getting more interested in homebrewing and trying different types of drinks, I was always a bit confused between IPAs and pale ales. If this is the case, read this pale ale vs. IPA guide to better understand the differences between these two types of ales.
Acid and Oil Composition for Apollo Hops
|ALPHA ACID (%)||15-20.5%|
|BETA ACID (%)||5.5-8%|
|Alpha-Beta Ratio||2:1 – 4:1|
|TOTAL OILS (mL/100g)||0.8-2.5 mL|
(flavors – citrus, fruit)
(flavors – wood, spice)
(flavors – pepper, herbs)
(flavors – floral, fresh)
(including linalool, geraniol, and selinene)
Alternatives to Apollo Hops
Due to their limited availability, I used to find it challenging to get my hands on Apollo hops. Even though that has changed in recent years, here are some hops that I think work as a good alternative to Apollo.
Magnum hops are predominately used for bittering IPAs and ales, so I think this hop is an excellent alternative to Apollo.
I have found Magnum’s aroma to be slightly different from Apollo’s but still relatively close. I think the citrus notes are more apparent in Apollo hops than Magnum, but you also get some similar spice, herbal, and mild grassy flavors.
Like Apollo, I wouldn’t usually put Magnum into the homebrew process solely for aroma. Magnum has a good alpha content, although it’s slightly below Apollo, so I think this hop works great for pale ales where you don’t want too harsh of a bitter finish.
- It offers a nice subtle bitter finish to IPAs and pale ales
- Magnum has similar flavors to Apollo but with a lesser citrus flavor
- I wouldn’t recommend this hop for aroma, but it works great for bittering.
I have found Columbus hops to be one of the most versatile hops out there, and I have found that they work great in many types of homebrews.
I think Columbus is ideal if you want a hop that can be used for bittering and to add pleasant and robust flavors to your homebrews. The high alpha content means this hop is perfect for adding a long-lasting bitter taste to IPAs, and you can also use this hop for a milder bitter finish to pale ales.
I would also suggest experimenting with Columbus in other types of beers, such as a stout. The bitterness will counteract an overly malty stout recipe, so give it a try because some great stouts I have tasted used Columbus hops, including Dark Web from the Brass Castle Brewery.
- Great bittering hop for IPAs and pale ales
- I think this is a very versatile hop that you can use in lagers and stouts
- It offers earthy and spicy notes with mild citrus
- Columbus doesn’t have an intense citrus flavor, so it is best as a bittering hop rather than one for aroma in IPAs and pale ales.
Nugget hops are another variety that I consider to be ideal for bittering IPAs and pale ales.
The hop has been around since the early 1980s. Nugget has proved to be a popular addition both for bittering and to add aroma to different types of ales. Some of the primary flavors I have found with Nugget include some really lovely floral and herbal notes combined with a spicy undertone.
I don’t find that much of a citrus finish to Nugget hops, which is why I think you are better to use this as a bittering hop (similar to Apollo) than using something like Cascade, Citra, or Simcoe to add intense flavor to your ales.
- Provides a mild bitter finish which works well for pale ales
- Offers a nice aroma, including earthy and herbal notes
- Good bittering hop, but doesn’t work great by itself to add aroma to homebrews
Lastly, if you are still searching for an alternative to Apollo, my last recommendation is to have a look at Millennium hops.
I have found Millennium hops to be very similar to Apollo as it they’re predominately used for bittering. Again, it isn’t a hop I would use for adding aroma and flavor to beers, IPAs, or pale ales. I have found the smell of Millennium hops quite interesting as there are notes of toffee and resin combined with some mild fruits such as pear.
I think Millennium hops work best in a pale ale as the alpha acid percentage offers a smooth finish. These hops are directly descended from Nugget and share many of the same characteristics as Columbus hops.
- Very similar hop to Columbus and Nugget
- Good bittering hop and can be used as a substitute for Apollo
- Offers a nice aroma with complex notes
- Not ideal for flavoring your ales
Apollo Hops Guide: FAQs
Question: Is Apollo a Bittering Hop?
Answer: Yes. Apollo hops are generally used for bittering ales and IPAs. It has a typical alpha percentage of 15-20.5%, which is ideal for a smooth bitter finish.
Question: Are Apollo Hops Hard to Find?
Answer: Apollo hops used to be difficult to get your hands on, and they weren’t widely used. However, these days, you can pick up Apollo hop pellets quite easily, and their use is becoming more widespread.
Question: What do Apollo Hops Taste Like?
Answer: Apollo hops have fruity aromas such as grapefruit and orange combined with pine and earthy notes. You will also notice some mild citrus flavor to Apollo hops, but they aren’t usually used as an aroma hop.
Question: Can I Grow My Own Apollo Hops?
Answer: Yes. There are no restrictions to growing Apollo hops. This hop is one of the easier hops to grow as it is resistant to many diseases and has a moderate growth rate.
Conclusion: Apollo Hops Work Great for Bittering, but Avoid Using them as an Aroma Hop
I think that Apollo hops are an excellent hop variety to add a nice bitter finish to IPAs and pale ales. The high alpha content means that Apollo hops work great for this purpose; however, I would advise against using them to add any aroma to your homebrews.
From my own experience of Apollo hops, I actually enjoy their aroma with orange and grapefruit notes and some pine and grassy flavors too. The mild citrus is quite pleasant, but I’m not convinced it is enough to create a tasty IPA or pale ale on its own.
My advice is to use Apollo hops to bitter ales and combine them with hops such as Citra, Simcoe, Cascade, or Centennial to whip up an ale with complex flavors and a good bitter finish.