Golding hops are the classic English aroma hop. The most famous Golding variety is East Kent Golding, which is sometimes considered to be a noble hop. However, this is actually a designation of origin and not a true cultivar; EKG hops may come from one of a number of closely related cultivars. Because Goldings are an open pollinated hop, each member of the Golding family may have some genetic differences as well as being grown in a different area. However, they all share a similar character, flavor and aroma profile.
Some Golding hops are easily identified by their name, such as East Kent Golding, Eastwell Golding, Petham Golding, or Canterbury Golding. However, other Golding hops have names related to their breeder or breeding location, such as Cobb, Amos' Early Bird, Mathon, and Bramling. Bramling is sometimes used to refer to a specific variety of Golding, and sometimes as a synonym for the cultivar itself. To add to the confusion, Styrian Goldings are not Goldings at all; they are in fact a variety of Fuggle.
The classic example of a Golding hop is the East Kent Golding variety; for this reason, all other U.K.-grown Goldings are often lumped together and sold as English Golding or U.K. Golding. Goldings from mid-Kent are sometimes sold as simply Kent Goldings.
Goldings are also grown in other countries, such as the United States; known as U.S. Goldings or Northwest Goldings, these American versions are mostly derived from Canterbury Golding hops and are not considered to have as desirable a character as the English-grown East Kent Golding. Golding hops were also previously grown in Canada as British Columbia Goldings, but are no longer produced there. If a homebrewer is offered "Golding" hops with no other identifier, they are likely to be American or other less desirable hops rather than the more expensive East Kent Golding.
Because of their excellent character and high demand, hop breeders have created many new lines using Golding hops as a base, including Bramling Cross, a cross with wild Canadian hops, and Chinook, a popular American bittering hop derived from an American version of Petham Goldings. Whitbread Goldings Variety, a popular dual-use hop for British ale styles, is similar in character but not a true Golding hop.
Whatever the variety, Goldings are excellent for hopping any traditional English ales.
Some specific varieties of Golding hops are described in more detail on the pages listed below.