Columbus (Tomahawk, Zeus, CTZ)

Alpha-Acid (%)

14.5 - 16.0


Columbus hops are a fairly new American cultivar. Columbus is sometimes found under the trade name Tomahawk and is highly similar to Zeus. Sometimes they are all lumped together as CTZ. They feature high alpha-acid content coupled with high essential oil content allowing for dual-use.

These hops tend to have earthy and spicy flavors. This is followed by a strong undercurrent of resin-like pungency. They have just a hint of the citrus flavors displayed in Cascade and Centennial. When used later in the boil, Columbus' pungent aromas can spillover into the aroma of dank marijuana. Due to this and Columbus' high alpha acid some brewers choose to limit Columbus to bittering additions.

Columbus has seriously high concentrations of essential oils – as much as twice as much by weight as many other hop varieties. Although this is still less than some of the most oil rich hops. Relative to other cultivars, a healthy portion of those essential oils are caryophyllene. This compound is normally less abundant than myrcene and humulene. Its exact effect on beer flavor is somewhat mysterious, but it is also found in certain spices known for strong flavor impact. In hops it seems to be associated with spicy and earthy flavors.

Possible Substitutes

Zeus has a very similar pedigree and similar flavor characteristics, although it might have slightly rougher flavors than Columbus/Tomahawk.

Chinook, Nugget, and Millennium, are American high alpha-acid varieties that share some of the deep resin character of Columbus. Chinook, in contrast to Columbus, is known for prominent pine aromas. Nugget and its descendent Millennium have delicate floral notes backed by substantial alpha-acid kick.

Centennial and Galena, are fairly clean-tasting high alpha-acid hops. Centennial has a mild and pleasant citrus character and Galena is noted for being extremely clean/neutral with some herbal character. Warrior is another clean-tasting hop with very high alpha-acid content.

Beer Styles

Columbus hops have the potential to produce strong bitterness. This is complemented by complex spicy/resiny flavors. Hence, they are a good bittering hop for all strongly hopped American ales (See American IPA, American pale ale, and Imperial IPA). Due to less crowd-pleasing aroma character, Columbus is frequently paired with other American hops later in the boil such as Cascade and Amarillo. Columbus can also be used for bittering additions in darker beers like American brown ale, American style stout, and robust porter.

Chemical Composition

Alpha Acids: 14.5 - 16.0 %
Beta Acids: 4.0 - 5.0 %
Alpha:Beta Ratio: 3.4
Cohumulone: 28 - 31 (% alpha-acids)
Essential Oils: 2 - 3 %
Myrcene: 44 - 50 (% essential oils)
Caryophyllene: 8 - 10 (% essential oils)
Humulene: 12 - 16 (% essential oils)
Farnesene: 0 - 1 (% essential oils)

All chemical composition values aggregated from [1], [2], and [3] where available.

Origin and Genetics

The Columbus cultivar was selected by Charles Zimmermann while working for the Hop Union breeding program. It was originally selected for high alpha-acid and essential oil content. [2] It seems that Columbus was first released sometime in the 1990's. Columbus was issued a US plant patent in 1999. [5] For a time claim to this hop was disputed, resulting in a lawsuit. The alternate trademarked name Tomahawk is just a rebranding of the same plant. Currently, the patent is held by Hop Union, but Yakima Chief is allowed to continue selling Tomahawk hops. [4]

Columbus is probably descended from Brewer's Gold by way of Nugget and a mix of other cultivars. [5] However, details of Columbus' pedigree were a closely guarded secret and are now lost to the ages.


  1. ^ Hopunion, LLC. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
  2. ^ Yakima Chief Hop Varietal Guide. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
  3. ^ USAHops Variety Manual. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
  4. ^ Haunold, Al. "The History Of CTZ: The Pursuit of Hop Patent Profit." In Hop Pursuit Blog. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
  5. ^ Fresh Hops. Retrieved 2013-11-20.