Alpha Acid %
6 – 9%
Beta Acid %
4 – 6%
Sterling are a relatively new variety of hop only being released in 1998. Developed in 1990 it is a cross of a variety of hops most notably Saaz, Cascade, Brewers Gold and Early Green. The reason it was bred in the first place was to have a Saaz like aroma hop that wasn’t susceptible to disease and fungus and having a yield big enough to make up for the shortfall in the Saaz harvest.
The composition of the hops makes it a unique combination, having levels of co-humulene in comparison to alpha acid content similar of that to noble hops.
Sterling has moderate levels of alpha acids and desirable aroma properties making it a good dual purpose hop. It’s breeding to make up for the shortfall of Saaz in the US, highlights it as a good hop to use in similar beer styles as you would Saaz.
The aroma is floral and citrus with notes of pineapple. The moderate aroma makes it suitable as an aroma hop in the more subtly flavoured beers such as Pilsners, Lagers, Blonde ales and Belgian Style beers.
As you can probably guess by now Sterling is used as a substitute for Saaz and the same could apply in reverse. The aroma is similar but the alpha acid content will probably be higher in the Sterling so take this into consideration if using as a bittering hop.
Lublin is another hop similar in aroma to Sterling and Saaz. The aroma may be more floral and herbal in Lublin but it is frequently used in beer styles you would find Sterling in.
Mt. Hood is another hop I have seen suggested as a substitute and may weel be a great substitute for biittering.