Spotlight on Perle Hops
The hop variety Perle was the result of a breeding program at The Hop Research Institute in Hüll Germany aimed at creating a disease resistant alternative to Hallertauer Mittelfrüh — a variety particularly susceptible to mildew. The new hop didn’t get much attention as a replacement, but did become popular in its own right. It was released commercially in 1978.
Perle remains one of the most popular aroma hops in Germany with just over 3,000 hectares dedicated to it in 2016. Around 1980 some Perle rhizomes made it to the U.S. and test plots were created near Corvallis, Oregon. Through testing it was found that U.S. grown Perle hops tend to have a smaller cone, but higher yield than those grown in Germany.
There was also a significant increase in alpha acid percentages — some of the tests yielding 11 to 12 percent. These characteristics are likely a combination of terroir and the fact that the Oregon sits much closer to the equator than Germany does.
These differing qualities help explain why the German variational is considered an aroma type, while the U.S. grown variational is usually defined as dual-purpose.
Perle is described as having much of the same character as Hallertau Mittelfrüh. It has a mild to moderate flavor and aroma that brings pleasing elements of spice and pepper. It also carries some of the signature notes from its Northern Brewer parent, including minty, evergreen, and woody/earthy elements; may also have whispers of green fruit, light florals, and tea.
Perle is a good all-around dual-purpose hop. It can work well as a neutral bittering hop where it creates a clean background to spotlight other aroma varieties. It can also be the complete package, bittering/flavor/aroma, especially in beers requiring a subtle hop touch.
If you plan to use it for bittering you may want to get the US domestic variety because it is likely to have more alpha acid than its German twin. By the same token it may be worth getting the German variety if you are trying to replicate more of the noble hop character. Though it’s also possible the difference would be negligible.
Can Substitute With/For These Hops:
The other Perle, either (US) or (GR)
Common Beer Styles Using Perle Hops:
According to the Oxford Companion to Beer, Perle is especially suited to sessionable ales/lagers, wheat styles, and other styles where high bitterness would be inappropriate. Any German style is also a great place to put this hop to work.
- Pale Ales
- Belgian Styles
- Wheat Beers
- Porters & Stouts
- Barley Wines
- German Pils
- Bock styles
- Munich Helles