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What Are Saaz Hops (How to Use in Beer Brewing)?

An excellent hop from the bosom of Europe, Saaz is one of the renowned noble hops from the days of old. It has been part of the cultivation culture of the Czech Republic for the longest time. Saaz is famous for its easy-going bitterness and profound aromas.
What Are Saaz Hops

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Because of the value of Saaz Hops in the beer world, geneticists made specialized hops from it. Thus, making it readily available to your locality.

This article tackles how you can make the most out of Saaz hops, whether for bittering or aromatics. Get your brew kettle started because your beer recipe is going to have pizzazz from Saaz.

Where Do Saaz Hops Come From?

If you are planning on traveling to the Czech Republic, stop by the town called Žatec. It is the birthplace of the renowned Saaz Hops.

It is a town with a collection of architectural styles from a range of historical periods.

Where Are Saaz Hops Grown?

The traditional growers of Saaz Hops are the farmers of the Czech Republic. With Germany being its neighbor, the Germans eventually followed suit.

Because of the interest in this noble hop, even the United States has gotten into growing it. Although, they mostly deal with hybrids. There are also other countries doing their own thing, but they are not big players like the latter three.

How to Pronounce Saaz Hops

Žatec is the Czech name for Saaz Hops. Saaz is a German twist of the Czech name so the pronunciation of “Zah-ts” makes sense. You could also pronounce it as “Saa-ts” or “Zaa-ts,” which are equally well sounding.

How to Grow Saaz Hops

Take a look at this general outline of the things you need to prepare and do to be a grower of Saaz Hops.

  • You need a system of pole trellises where the Saaz plant can hang out.
    • Provide adequate breathing room for the plant. About 30 inches (76 cm) provides good circulation.
    • Wrap your young plants following a fixed rotation around your poles.
  • Place them in a location with direct sunlight for at least six hours.
  • Ensure your plants are standing on well-drained soil.
  • Water your plants regularly and in moderation. Overwatering is a thing.
  • When your Saaz reaches a height of 10 feet (3 meters), increase the air circulation at the lower end.
    • You can achieve this by pruning the lower leaves.

Saaz Hops Characteristics

Saaz Hops are gentle on the palate. It has a unique taste that other hops cannot hope to match. It is why this noble hop is a popular and valuable ingredient in beer-making circles.

Saaz Hops Flavor and Aroma Profile

You can enjoy a fragrance of earthiness, herbs, essential oils, and some spice. Note that your sense of taste and smell are closely coupled. You could swear that you tasted something that you only caught a whiff off. This makes the Flavor and Aroma profiles practically interchangeable.

What Do Saaz Hops Taste Like?

An important factor in Saaz Hops’ taste is its bitterness. It has a mellow bitterness that takes quite a lot of hops to increase. Thanks to this property, Saaz balances your beer to the side of hop aroma and flavor. It is so much better than just overloading on pungency.

Saaz Hops and Allergy

When it comes to allergies, you would be better off seeing a professional. Saaz may cause reactions to folks afflicted with pollen allergies, but it is not certain.

Determining hops as causing allergies is not straightforward. You need to undergo a battery of allergy tests because beers have a ton of other working parts. The sad thing is if you have alcohol intolerance.

Saaz Hops and Gluten

If you have Gluten allergies, you are safe with Saaz. Gluten is only present in cereal grains so that is something to be “hoppy” about.

Saaz Hops Benefits

Saaz Hops has many compounds that enable healthy living. It has essential oils, vitamins, and minerals. Because of this, you can even find supplements made out of hops. Traditional herbal use has been more as a sedative. If you feel anxious and stressed, it can help you find calm.

Other research points to the ability of bitter compounds to fire up digestive juices. This will aid in your appetite and breakdown of food.

Moreover, it is well known that hops themselves are antiseptic. It is the preservative function of hops at work. However, the advice on how you would apply it is something between you and the herbalist.

Beers With Saaz Hops

Generic Beer Styles that pay tribute to Saaz Hops are:

  • Bohemian Pilsners
  • German Lagers and Pilsners
  • Wheat Beers and associated styles
  • Continental Lagers

This noble hop is a great addition to any beer that requires a finishing touch of hoppiness. And more specifically, you get to add royal fragrances and flavors that are not found in other hops.

Because there are many descendants of Saaz Hops, it is not really easy to come by beers that put it on a pedestal. You will mostly find it used in special recipes listed by craft brewers and homebrewers.

Lager With Saaz Hops

You can get some Saaz in most of the Czech lagers. It also works well with pale, amber, and dark lagers.

Take for example “Pilsner Urquell.” It is the world’s first pale lager that uses Saaz hops and soft water to great effect. Since its inception, many imitations have come out onto the field.

Saaz Hops Pilsner

Get your hands on “Pickup No. 26” from the craft brewer Thornbury Village Brewery. It is an old-school Czech Pilsner using the basics: Bohemian malts, Saaz hops, and Czech yeast.

Saaz Hops in Ale

There is something about a “Jacobsen Saaz Blonde” that says Saaz Hops. It is a traditional Belgian Blonde Ale with the aroma of pine from the Saaz. This combined with Pilsner malt and Angelica herbs make for a stand-up Blonde.

Pale Ale With Saaz Hops

The Antwerp icon beer “De Koninck Speciale Belge APA” satisfies the Ale category. The APA stands for Antwerp Pale Ale. Interestingly enough, it is amber in color, with a cream-colored foam head.

Saaz Hops in Brown Ale

Lost Coast Brewery brews a Saaz infused “Winterbraun.” It mixes American pale malt with caramel and chocolate malts to give you a chocolatey climax. When they put the Saaz in, that unique spice plus chocolate takes the beer to the max.

Saaz Hops in IPA

The back ends of IPAs are where Saaz Hops shine. Take a look at an “F126 Chinook Columbus Saaz IPA.” It is a combination of American hops finished with Saaz to take the hoppiness sky-high.

Saaz Hops in Wheat Beer

Bring home a Wheat Beer like “Allagash White.” It is a Saaz-loving Witbier from Allagash Brewing Co. It uses oats in its grain bill for a textured mouthfeel. It gives you a taste of citrus and spice, and all things nice.

Saaz Hops in Hefeweizen

Drink a “Say My Name Hefe!” from Asheville Brewing Company to feel the classic German wheat style inspiration. Catch the duets of the banana and clove, or vanilla and bubblegum notes from the yeasty clouds.

How Do You Use Saaz Hops?

Use your Saaz Hops to put majestic aromas and flavors in your brew. Now that is its primary purpose in the contemporary brewing scene. You could use it for bittering but you won’t feel like you made the most out of it.

When to Add Saaz Hops

Depending on your intended purpose of using Saaz Hops, here is a table of the most commons stages to add it.

Purpose Stage
Bittering At the start of the wort reaching a rolling boil.
Flavoring 15 to 30 minutes remaining in the boil.
Aroma At the last 5 minutes of the boil. You can also do it after ending the heating, aka flame out.

You need to pay attention to the exact recipe for the times because they will make or break your brew.

How Much Saaz Hops to Use

The worst-case scenario is that you will overwhelm your beer with a crazy amount of hoppiness. The rule of thumb is to start small, then work your way up until you have met your objective. You can start with a safe one to two ounces (28 to 56 grams). A one-ounce increment is reasonable.

Too Much Saaz Hops

If in doubt, adding more hops sounds about right until it doesn’t. You are more likely to waste your cash and break your tongue on a bitter hell of a grassy Saaz beer. Most recipes play around the 5-ounce (141 grams) mark.

Dry Hopping With Saaz Hops

You can also add Saaz Hops outside of the boiling stage of your brew. This is fondly known as Dry Hopping. You add your Saaz hops at either the primary fermentation or secondary fermentation stage. This is the secret to the scandalous Zero IBU beers.

To be specific, some brewers prefer a timing of three to five days before bottling. Or as early as two weeks before bottling.

Can Saaz Hops Be Used for Bittering?

As much as you want to believe that Noble hops should be like Swiss Army knives, Saaz is not a bittering hop. It excels in giving beers aromatherapy and adds a flavor like no other. That is not to say that you are not allowed to use it for bittering. If you go for it, you can get a nice and subtle bitterness. Perfect for a smooth swig.

Saaz Hops IBU

A pure Saaz-hopped beer would reach a reasonable upper limit of 30 to 45 IBU. But if you are talking about Saaz IBU on a granular level, you can refer to the basic empirical formula:

  • IBU = Weight of Hops (Ounces) × % Alpha Acid (AA) × % Hops Utilization (HU) ÷ 7.25

So, say you have an ounce of Saaz hops with an AA of 2.5% boiled for 60 minutes. If you plug in all the values:

  • IBU = 1oz ×5% AA × 30.0% (boiling over 60 minutes) ÷ 7.25

You will get an IBU of around 10. However, this is a demonstration using arbitrary values in one stage of the brew to show how to go about it.

Seriously, don’t make your life complicated, use an online IBU calculator.

Saaz Hops Alpha Acid Composition

Saaz Hops Alpha Acid (AA) Composition is around 2.5 to 4.5 percent. You can find AAs in the resin glands of the hop. Heating these bittering compounds releases them in the form of iso-alpha-acids.

The science gets really heavy from the get-go. It is a good thing it helps make great-tasting beer.

Saaz Hops Alternatives

You can try the following substitutes if you are experiencing shortages in your area:

  • Premiant
  • Kazbek
  • Lubin
  • Saaz (US)
  • Sterling
  • Lubelska-Pulawy
  • Motueka
  • Centennial
  • Amarillo

You can use others as long as they meet your brewing goals. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with penny-pinching, Saaz Hops can be quite expensive.

Where Can I Buy Saaz Hops?

It is wonderful that Amazon and Walmart carry hops in their inventory. However, if you are serious about hops, you can try “The Hops List” database. They have a compilation of information on a lot of hop varieties. You take their advice on recommended vendors per area, which is perfect for newbies.