When is the optimum time to harvest hops for aroma?
How will you know when that optimum has been reached?
Do different aroma oils reach their maximum concentration at different times as the cone ripens?
These are some of the questions that drive Indie Hops to fund hop ‘maturity’ studies at Oregon State University. We are pleased to announce that the results of our first effort to wrestle with this topic will be presented at this year’s Craft Brewers’ Conference in San Francisco by OSU Professor Dr. Tom Shellhammer on Saturday, March 26th.
In late summer and early fall of 2010, Cascade and Willamette hops were collected on three successive weeks at three Oregon locations and analyzed for aromatic compounds by Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry. Thirty-one different GC ‘peaks’ were identified and compared.
In a fortunate coincidence, single hop beers using some of the very same hops were brewed by Deschutes Brewing and later judged by a sensory panel at OSU. This allowed us to relate some of the lab analysis to actual flavor perception in beer, something that will be pursued more fully in subsequent projects.
The complexity of hop aroma is so great that it’s not surprising to find that each attempt to answer one question brings several more to the surface. And although this first study is too limited to produce any grand conclusions, some commonly heard notions about hops now seem to be less certain. If you’re going to CBC, consider attending Dr. Shellhammer’s presentation to judge for yourself.
Perhaps some day we’ll learn that a 5-day difference at harvest can mean the difference between a decent well-hopped craft beer and a remarkable one.
See you at the CBC.