Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Variety, Uniqueness, Consistency

Craft beer thrives in a culture of diversity and adventure. In our own little town of Portland, Oregon, as soon as we reached thirty-some breweries and mumblings of “over saturated” picked up, a dozen more breweries opened up much to the enduring gratitude of happy customers. The growing variety of beers, pubs and breweries is attracting more and more thirsty people everyday.

Perhaps more than any other arrow in the quiver of ingredients, hops cast a spell on brewers and imbibers of American craft beer, tickling the potential for variety and individualism. Their symphony of oils reaches each of us with a unique tone, the crescendo leading some to ecstasy and others to seek refuge. We continue to be amazed at how wildly different educated palates can interpret the same hop.

Last summer a focus group panel was held that illustrates these varied perceptions toward hops. A group of accomplished craft brewers from Oregon tasted a series of single-hopped beers, not knowing what the hop was in the various samples. Descriptors they used to describe the prevailing hop character, and the number of panelists who used that descriptor, are below:

Clearly, one brewer’s nectar can be another’s poison! [One guy’s fruity apple can be another’s cat pee?]

As we’ve striven to learn from brewers how they’d like to see the hop world evolve, this theme of variety, creativity and uniqueness stands out.

Our resident brewer and Brewery Ambassador Matt Sage has recently travelled the craft brewery scenes in Washington State, Oregon, Southern California and Colorado, seeking insights into what brewers are looking for in hops. His findings are as varied as his travels! Click here for a taste of Matt’s curious adventures in the world of hop flavor.

Alongside variety and uniqueness, brewers also care about consistency. After all, when we find something we really like, we want it to be consistent. What can Indie Hops do to help the hop world evolve in a way that craft brewers would like to see? Well...might as well start with variety, uniqueness and consistency!

Click here for a review of a few of the breeding projects underway at Oregon State University that we are spearheading in our quest to probe the mysteries and amplify the wonders of the noble flower.


1 comment:

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