Bullion (US)

Alpha Acids (%)

6.7 - 12.9


This venerable bittering hop, originally from England, is one of the earliest high alpha-acid hop varieties. Its popularity has declined substantially over the years to the point where it is somewhat hard to find. Although this may be justified, Bullion’s flavor is sometimes described as “a bit rough”, and it is not recommended for late kettle additions or dry-hopping. When used as a bittering hop it is said to be fairly pungent and to impart earthy, resin-flavors with some black currant flavor. This black currant character is also seen in Bullion’s sibling variety Brewer’s Gold and the closely related Bramling Cross. It is possible that Bullion is no longer cultivated in its native England.

Possible Substitutes

Brewer’s Gold and Bramling Cross are both genetically similar to Bullion, and both are thought to share some of the flavor characteristics that make Bullion distinctive. However, neither really matches Bullion’s high alpha-acid content.

Chinook and Columbus are possible substitutes for Bullion. Both are high alpha hops noted for being resinous and a little bit rough, but they also have distinct and interesting characteristics of their own. Chinook is often described as strongly piney with some citrus flavors, and Columbus is often said to be citrusy and spicy. However, these differences in hop character are relatively subtle to begin with and are thought to be largely due to volatile essential oils, which mostly evaporate from hops added for the bittering addition.

A third option is to ignore hop character and substitute relatively neutral bittering hops, such as Magnum or Galena.

Beer Styles

Bullion is said to work well as a bittering hop for dark ales particularly British porters and stouts. They could also work for bittering in dark low-bitterness beers such as Scotch ale and dopplebock.

Chemical Composition

Alpha Acids: 6.7 - 12.9 %
Beta Acids: 3.7 - 9.1 %
Alpha:Beta Ratio: 1.5
Cohumulone: 35 - 43 (% alpha-acids)
Essential Oils: 1.1 - 2.7 %
Myrcene: 45 - 55 (% essential oils)
Caryophyllene: 9 - 11 (% essential oils)
Humulene: 23 - 30 (% essential oils)
Farnesene: 0 - 1 (% essential oils)

All chemical composition values aggregated from [1] and [3] where available.

Origin and Genetics

Bullion is the offspring of a cross made at Wye College in England by Professor E. S. Salmon. It was discovered as a seedling in 1919 and was released for production in 1938, and it became popular for its bittering potential during the 1940’s.

It is descended from a female hop plant (designated BB1) collected from the wild near Morden, Manitoba and brought to the nursery at Wye College. The male contribution is from an unknown English hop plant via open pollination.

While Bullion was one of the first super high alpha-acid hops, in the 1980’s it was largely supplanted by newer super high alpha-acid hops with better storage stability and aroma characteristics.

Morden, Manitoba: Collection site for BB1
A map of Southern Canada and the Northern US showing Morden, Manitoba
Figure 1: The undomesticated female hop plant designated BB1 was found growing wild in Manitoba, Canada. It was collected as a plant cutting in 1916 and later planted at Wye College in England.
Wye College at Wye, Kent, England
A map of the Czech Republic showing Zatec and Plzen
Figure 2: Bullion hops are a product of the hop breeding program at Wye College located in the town of Wye in south-east England. Bullion is a seedling found on the wild Manitoban plant BB1 fertilized by an unkown male plant.


  1. ^ Fresh Hops. http://www.freshops.com/hops/usda-named-hop-variety-descriptions. Retrieved 2013-08-25.
  2. ^ Hopunion, LLC. http://www.hopunion.com. Retrieved 2013-08-25.