Hops Glossary – Cohumulone: The Bitter Truth Tapped Out

Reading Time: around 8 min

Ah, hops! They’re not just for bunnies, you know. In the charismatic world of beer brewing, they’re the real rockstars. Hops do more than just add a bounce to your beer. They’re complex little flowers with a lot going on beneath the petals. 

One star of the hop show? 

Cohumulone, a name that sounds like it belongs to a Roman Emperor.

But actually plays a critical role in the bitterness of your beer.

So, you fancy yourself a brewing aficionado, eh? Cohumulone is one secret ingredient you’ll want to get chummy with. This guy is part of the alpha acids in hops. Spoiler alert: they contribute to that signature bitter taste. 

It either sends your palate to hop heaven or contorts your face like you’ve just licked a lemon. Not all hops are created equal, and it’s cohumulone that’s often the ringleader in the bitterness circus. 

‘Cause let’s be honest.

Nothing gets a beer geek more excited…

…than chatting about the alpha acid content of their favorite brew!

Key Takeaways

  • Cohumulone is a bittering compound found in hops that can influence the taste of beer.
  • Not all hops have the same levels of cohumulone, impacting the bitterness profile.
  • Understanding cohumulone’s role can elevate your brewing game and palate education.


All About Cohumulone

Think of cohumulone as the wild card in your hop deck. 

This little guy can really shape the punch your beer packs.

Cohumulone Chemistry

Ready to dive into the molecular mosh pit? Cohumulone is an alpha acid. These are compounds in the hop plant that give beer its bitterness. But let’s face it, not all bitterness is created equal. 

Cohumulone’s molecular structure is similar to other alpha acids like humulone. However, it has a slight variation. This could transform your brew from a gentle lamb to a roaring lion in the bitterness arena.

Cohumulone Levels in Varieties

Now, you don’t want your beer to be a one-hit-wonder with just bitterness, right? 

Well, the amount of cohumulone varies by hop variety. 

Some types, like Cascade, sit on the low cohumulone end of the seesaw, bringing in waves of other flavors. Then there are high cohumulone bad boys like Chinook, which throw a bitter right hook into your taste buds. 

Here’s a breakdown to keep you in the loop.

Low Cohumulone Varieties (You’re in for a smoother ride):

  • Simcoe
  • Tettnanger
  • Saaz


High Cohumulone Varieties (Buckle up for bitterness):

  • Vic Secret
  • Topaz
  • Medusa


Keep these characters in mind when you’re brewing your next masterpiece. They’ll help you decide if you’re painting your beer with serene strokes or bold slashes of bitterness.

The Hops Directory

Let’s hop right in and untangle the viney world of hops, focusing on that sly compound cohumulone and how it spices up our beloved brews.

Cultivar Characteristics

Imagine cultivars as the diverse cast of a hoppy soap opera. Each has its own flair, like Saaz with its low-key relax-on-the-porch vibes. And its polar opposite, Chinook, the party animal of bitterness.

Cohumulone, my friend, is that sneaky ingredient that adjusts the bitterness dial. 

High cohumulone creates a sharper bitterness. Low cohumulone, as in noble hops, gives you a smooth, sophisticated bitterness. It lets you lean back and whisper “ah, refinement”.

Noble Hops and Their Cousins

So, you’ve heard of the noble hops? These hops are like the royal family of the hop world. Think Saaz from Czechia, Tettnang, and Spalt from Germany. They’re the first-rate, blue-bloods of bitterness. With a low cohumulone count, they ensure your pint is as noble as they are. 

Then you’ve got the friendly cousins. Vic Secret from Down Under may not be noble by the book, but it’s got that zesty zing and tropical punch that could charm the hops off any brew.

The Wild Side: Neomexicanus Varieties

Alright, strap in! Here’s the wild child, Neomexicanus. 

This hop is the road-tripping, desert-dwelling wanderlust variety. It buries the conventional with herbal, citrusy notes. You didn’t even know you needed them. It’s like finding an oasis in the desert, and guess what? 

Cohumulone levels are all over the place with these fellas, so each sip is a gamble. Will it be a bitter bite or a smooth caress? Roll the dice and see where you land!

So, just remember, next time you’re sipping on your crafty concoction…

…give a little nod to cohumulone. 

It’s the behind-the-scenes maestro conducting the bitter symphony in your beer.

Brewing and Bitterness

Cohumulone is that sneaky compound you’ve heard whispers about. It is about to get real cozy with your understanding of beer bitterness. So, buckle up!

Alpha Acids’ Role in Bitterness

You’ve probably heard brewers worship at the altar of alpha acids. Well, their role in beer bitterness is like the headliner at a rock concert. Cohumulone is one of these alpha acids hiding out in the hop resin. 

When these acids meet the hot wort in the kettle, a magical transformation happens. Iso-alpha acids are born, and bitterness levels start to crank up. But here’s the twist: different alpha acids bring different bitterness vibes, and our frenemy cohumulone?

It’s rumored to be the sharper, edgier member of the band.

Which could make your beer taste like it’s got an attitude.

And it most likely will with higher levels of cohumulone. But is it a bad thing?

  • Alpha Acid: Cohumulone
  • Flavor Profile: Harsher bitterness with higher levels


The Art of Dry Hopping

Dry hopping: the secret sauce for aroma without the extra bite. You toss hops into the beer after the kettle has done its heavy lifting, purely for that aromatic concert to hit your nose. Here’s the kicker, though. Cohumulone doesn’t rule the stage here. 

It’s all backstage, as dry hopping isn’t about bitterness

It’s about those sweet, sweet smells that make you want to marry the glass. Just remember, dry hopping is like adding glitter. It doesn’t change the base color, just makes it sparkle more.

  • Process: Adding hops post-boil
  • Impact: Enhanced aroma, not bitterness


Late Additions: Whirlpool and Beyond

Last-minute decisions can be thrilling, right? Well, in brewing, late addition hops chucked into the whirlpool are the way to shake things up. They barge in at the end of the boil, throwing punches of flavor while muting their bitterness. 

Cohumulone levels don’t matter as much here since the whirlpool’s cooler temps keep it from getting too feisty. And what’s left? A beer that whispers bitterness with a hint of “you know you want me.”

  • Timing: After boil completion
  • Effect: Milder bitterness, more pronounced flavor


So while cohumulone may sound like a villain in a cape, don’t be fooled.

With the right moves, it can be the hero in your brewing saga. Keep an eye on those IBUs, but also remember, a hop by any other name would smell as sweet. Or bitter. Enjoy the brew ride!

The Anatomy of a Hop

Before you dive into your next brew session, let’s crack the cone on hops. They’re the life of the beer party, especially cohumulone, a feisty compound. 

Lupulin: The Source of It All

Think of lupulin as the secret sauce of the hop. 

This yellowish powder, hiding in the nooks of the hop cones, is like a treasure chest of acids and oils. It’s the stuff that brings the punch to your pint. And speaking of punch, cohumulone, one of the alpha acids in lupulin, is like the zesty cousin at a family reunion.

It’s a bit higher in some hop varieties.

And trust me, it can take your beer’s bitterness from “meh” to “yeah!” in no time.

  • Presence in cone: Majority found in the lupulin glands of the hop cone.
  • Role in brewing:
    • Adds bitterness when boiled in wort.
    • Affects the beer’s sharpness and quality of bitterness.
  • Characteristics: More intense bitterness with higher levels.


Bines, Cones, and Resins

Now, you’re not swinging from bines here. The climbing plant that produces these magical cones is called a “bine,” not a vine. Cones are the hop flowers we want. They’re packed with lupulin, our feisty friend cohumulone, and other resins and essential oils like humulene.


  • Grows vertically, wrapping clockwise.
  • Produces hop cones annually.



  • Contains lupulin glands with acids and essential oils.
  • The shape and size vary among hop varieties.


Resins and Humulene:

  • Resins contribute to the bitterness of beer; think of them as the bittersweet symphony of your brew.
  • Humulene adds a hoppy aroma; it’s like the backing vocals to cohumulone’s lead guitar riff.


In the orchestra of brewing, these parts come together to create a masterpiece in your mug. Keep an eye on that cohumulone; it’s what gives your brew its backstage pass to Bitterness Fest.

The Chemistry Behind the Bitterness

Before we dive into the bitter world of hops, you need to know that bitterness isn’t just a flavor. It’s a chemically induced dance party sparked by heat.

Isomerization: The Heat Is On

Here’s some hot news: when you boil hops, you’re actually flipping chemical switches. This process, called isomerization, transforms humulone molecules into iso-alpha acids. Think of it as a chemical tango.

Where heat cranks up the music and humulone molecules get their dance on.

  • Before Heat: Humulone (inactive, wallflower at the dance)
  • After Heat: Iso-alpha acids (the life of the party)


Humulone vs. Cohumulone

Got humulone? Great, but let’s talk about its feisty cousin, cohumulone. This guy’s a bit of a wild card, with a reputation for a sharper, some say harsher, bitterness in your brew. You don’t want too much of him, or your taste buds might start a protest.

  • Cohumulone contents can vary across different hop varieties, and guess what? Higher levels often thumb their noses at folks looking for a smoother bitterness.
  • Hop varieties are like different breeds of the hop plant, not a Harry Potter spell. Each variety brings its own set of characteristics. Our friend cohumulone is one of these.


So, when you gaze into your beer with dreamy eyes, remember. It’s the iso-alpha acids like iso-cohumulone that are giving you that bitter stare back. 

And now you know why some beers have a bite that makes you want to bite back!

Picture of Damian


A lifelong learner, hop enthusiast and a lover of the state of extreme exhaustion.

Finance Analyst in the Investment Bank and co-founder of