East Kent Goldings

Alpha Acids

4.5 - 6.5


Golding variety hops grown in the eastern region of the English county of Kent. These famous English aroma-type hops are a popular ingredient for premium pale ales and bitters. They are prized for their smooth aroma. They are floral and slightly spicy and sometimes compared to lavender, thyme, and honey. They are also sometimes said to produce muted citrus flavors like sweet lemon or marmalade. East Kent Goldings tend to have high concentrations of humulene. This essential oil is also prominent in Noble Hops and is thought to produce much of the characteristic Noble Hop aroma.

East Kent Goldings (sometimes abbreviated EKG) are grown exclusively in a small geographic area where the soil and climate are thought to favor this variety and the development of good hop flavors. The geographic designations of English Goldings reflect this preference for hops grown in East Kent – in order of diminishing prestige: EKG, Kent Goldings (grown in the county of Kent but outside of the eastern part), and UK Goldings (grown elsewhere in the UK).

Implicit in these designations is the idea that terroir strongly affects hop quality. The first Golding hops were selected from a landrace variety found in East Kent, therefore they are probably very well adapted for growing there. EKGs are thought to benefit from the moisture retentive soil of the North Downs where they are often cultivated. This region exposes the hops to salt-laden winds blowing off the Thames Estuary. The North Downs typically experience cold weather in March around the time when hop flavor characteristics start developing. [3]

Possible Substitutes

All Golding varieties are ostensibly, genetically identical – just grown under different conditions. Examples of other Golding varieties are Kent Goldings, UK Goldings, and US Goldings. The character of these non-East-Kent Goldings are often quite similar to EKG. Some people find them to be less intense or to have a slightly woody flavor not present in the original.

Fuggles are a fine English aroma hop with some similar characteristics. Fuggles and EKG are both an excellent choice for late hop additions in English-style ales. Willamette is an American cultivar closely related to Fuggles with some citrus character.

Whitbread Goldings Variety (WGV) is not genetically a Golding hop at all. It is thought to have some similar floral flavors, though WGV may be more intensely flavorful. EKG are also sometimes compared to Noble Hops from the Continent.

Beer Styles

EKG can be used for most English styles. They may feature prominently as flavor and aroma additions in English pale ales (e.g. ordinary bitter, best bitter, and ESB). They can also be featured in moderately hoppy styles like northern English brown ale and old ale. They are very popular for dry hopping and cask conditioning. Due to their Noble-character and interesting flavors, they are popular in some styles of Belgian ale, such as Belgian pale ale. They can also be used in American beers. These premium aroma hops probably make the most sense in hop-centric ales that take inspiration from the English brewing tradition: American pale ale, American IPA, and American red ale.

Chemical Composition

Alpha Acids: 4.5 - 6.5 %
Beta Acids: 1.9 - 2.8 %
Alpha:Beta Ratio: 2.3
Cohumulone: 25 - 30 (% alpha-acids)
Essential Oils: 0.4 - 0.8 %
Myrcene: 20 - 30 (% essential oils)
Caryophyllene: 12 - 16 (% essential oils)
Humulene: 38 - 44 (% essential oils)
Farnesene: 0 - 1 (% essential oils)

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

Origin and Genetics

Golding hops are an offshoot of the Canterbury Whitebine variety. The Canterbury Witebines were semi-wild hops grown in south-east England. They are named for their white vines and proximity to the village of Canterbury in Kent. Mr. Golding developed his hop variety starting from these hops, and Golding hops were first released commercially around 1790.

It appears that Golding hops were not always propagated clonally because during the 1800's several varieties of Golding hops start being distinguished. Most were named for villages in East Kent where they were grown: Petham Golding, Rothersham Golding, Canterbury Golding, and Eastwell Golding. Some were named for hop farmers Cobbs Golding and Amos's Early Bird (sometimes just Early Bird refering to earlier maturation and harvesting of this variety).

Modern Golding hops were standardized by the efforts of Wye College and the East Malling Research Station. The Golding hops currently grown in East Kent are descended from samples collected by these organizations during the late 1800's and early 1900's. [3] A handful of Golding specimens were assigned distinct USDA accension numbers such as Petham Goldings, Eastwell Goldings, Canterbury Goldings, and East Kent Goldings. [4] However, the agricultural and flavor properties of these strains are generally thought to be quite similar.

The Golding cultivar is an ancestor to many hop breeds including Bramling Cross, Northern Brewer, Northdown, Target, and Centennial.


  1. British Hop Association. http://www.britishhops.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  2. Simply Hops. http://www.simplyhops.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  3. COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 510/2006 on protected geographical indications and protected designations of origin. “East Kent Goldings.” https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/218647/east-kent-goldings-pdo-120430.pdf. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  4. USDA NAMED HOP VARIETY DESCRIPTIONS. http://www.freshops.com/hops/usda-named-hop-variety-descriptions#usda_id_21681. Retrieved 2013-12-07.