Hop breeding has been a thing for many centuries, but in the mid 1800s hop breeding became more organized, first in Germany, and soon spreading to other European hop producing countries and beyond. Breeding hops solves many issues for hop farmers, including increasing yields, breeding shorter length hops, and develop disease resistant hops. In the US, New England and New York ruled stateside hop cultivation and breeding for many years. Then, the hop foundation Ezra Meeker built in Puyallup in the late 1800s, and the great fertile grounds and ideal climate of Yakima farmlands came to fruition catapulting Washington state into the number one producer of hops in the nation, roughly 70-percent of production. The US is also now the biggest hop producer globally. Speaking of world’s best, the Hop Breeding Company (HBC), which was started up by Yakima Chief Ranchers and John I. Haas, two well established Yakima hop companies, has been named the world’s most successful breeding program. They create new hops via “trials” in which thousands of seedlings are grown to see how resilient they are. Those that prove to be disease resistant are then tested for their flavor and aroma profiles during brewing trials. This also determines when the hop is best used during the brewing process. HBC’s Their first two successful hops — Citra and Mosaic— are the two most important aroma hops in the US. Other HBC hops include Sabro brand HBC 438, Ekuanot brand HBC 366, Pahto brand HBC 682, and Loral brand HBC 291. Today, the Grit & Grain Podcast will sit down with Rikki Welz, sensory scientist with John I. Haas at 4:30 p.m. in Peaks & Pints’ Event Room. Grab our in-house beer flight — Peaks and Pints Beer Flight: Hop Breeding Company — and drink beers brewed with HBC hops while listening to Welz wax hops.
Peaks and Pints Beer Flight: Hop Breeding Company
Initially known as HBC 291, the hop has become known as Loral, thanks to mother U.S. developed aroma variety Glacier, grandmother European noble aroma variety Tardif de Bourgogne, and father U.S. developed Nugget variety. Loral provides a more traditional yet unique hop character, providing the floral and herbal notes one would expect from a fine noble aroma hop. The aroma profile of this hop has some great floral, peppery, and even herbal notes to it, reminiscent of German noble hops. However, it doesn’t stop there. The citrus (specifically lemon) and some dark fruit character make this a truly unique hop. Bale Breaker Brewing’s year-round crisp Pilsner carefully balances malt and hops with notes of breakfast cereal, floral, and citrus. Brewed with Loral, local Simcoe, and Palisade hops grown on the brewery’s family farm in the Yakima Valley, this pilsner offers more citrus and berry fruit notes and less floral character compared to traditional European noble hops.
In September 2020, Hop Breeding Company’s experimental hop HBC 692 received its official fancy new brand name, Talus, a word that represents the sloped features of rocky terrain, paying homage to the rich mountainous landscape of the Pacific Northwest and the hop’s adventurous flavor profile drawing from its roots as a cultivated daughter of Sabro, brand HBC 438. By pairing its neomexicanus heritage with a local Pacific Northwest hop, Talus delivers big aromas of pink grapefruit, citrus rinds, dried roses, pine resin, tropical fruits, and sage. Yakima brewery Single Hill Brewing brewed their Payday IPA with HBS hops Mosaic, Citra, and the cryo version of Talus for soft bitterness and a huge tropical aroma.
7% ABV, 55 IBU
In 2016, Great Notion Brewing opened in Northeast Portland and opened the city’s eyes. Owners James Dugan, Andy Miller, and Paul Reiter basically freaked out the city known as Beervana with their New England-style IPAs and boundary-pushing culinary-style beers. The awards followed: World Beer Cup, GABF, Best of Craft Beer Awards, and Oregon Beer Awards, as well as the 2018 #1 IPA in America from Paste Magazine, Ripe IPA, a 100-percent Citra and Citra Cryo hopped hazy IPA that brings flavors of fresh squeezed OJ, dank papaya, and tropical mango, slowly fading into pithy bitterness.
A granddaughter of Warrior, HBC 630 resulted from a cross made in 2008. It was selected for its moderately high alpha, low cohumulone and distinct aroma. The best way to describe HBC 630 is fruity. It presents with flavor and aroma notes that have been described as cherry or raspberry candy like with pronounced tropical notes. Structures Brewing and Ruse Brewing averted an existential crisis by double dry hopping their hazy IPA with HBC 630, Citra, and Strata. A can covered with flower images, this beer is pure tranquility with floral and citrus notes. You can get lost in the flavors.
In December 2021, after 300 batches of homebrew, and countless building egress drawings, Nick Ladd and Jessie Quan, husband and wife, opened Ladd & Lass Brewing in Seattle’s U-District. Housed in the former Floating Bridge Brewery spot on 45th Street near Interstate 5, which was also the former Rainbow Tavern, they brewed Holographic Memory with an absurd amount of Centennial, plus HBC hops Citra Cryo, Sabro Cryo, and Ekuanot Lupomax hops, for an herbal, minty hop aroma with a rather sweet malt base. On the tongue, expect a big malt sweetness for big hop flavors with the minty and herbal notes from the nose. It’s smooth, with a medium body and big creaminess.