Sorachi Ace (Hop) is a hop developed by Dr Yoshitada Mori of Sapporo Breweries in Japan in the late 1970s. Brewer’s Gold was crossed with Saaz, and the progeny was crossed with a Beikei No. 2 male. It was formally released from the Sapporo program in 1984 and was briefly grown in Japan and at Sapporo’s hop farms in China. Research plantings were done at the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Oregon State University research farm in 1994, but the hop was not made available commercially in the United States until released in 2006 by Virgil Gamache Farms of Toppenish, Washington.
Sorachi Ace was named after the Sorachi subprefecture of Hokkaido. The breeding goal was a higher-alpha Saaz-type hop, but the result was rather different. Sorachi Ace averages 12%–13% alpha acids, although it has reportedly achieved up to 16% in non-commercial plantings in Japan. Cohumulone is low at 23%, and the hop gives a clean, snappy bitterness. Sorachi Ace matures mid season and is a vigorous grower that resists downy mildew. Yields are considered average at 1,569 to 1,681 per hectacre (1,400 to 1,500 lb per acre). This hop is particularly notable for its flavor and aroma, which is reminiscent of lemongrass, lemon peel, and lemon verbena. Some tasters find an oak-like background note, along with accents of cilantro (coriander leaf), dill, and diesel fuel. Still grown on fewer than 12 acres in the United States in 2010, Sorachi Ace has captured the attention of craft brewers seeking out new flavor characteristics, particularly for India pale ales, saisons, and wheat beers.