Worthy Experimental Hop Taste Test Tour

Worthy Brewing in Bend recently had on a flight of 4 beers made with experimental hops to solicit feedback on some of their potential hops from the Indie Hops and Oregon State University’s Experimental Hop Breeding Program. Roger Worthington, owner of Worthy, is also an owner of Indie Hops.

Photo of 4 taster glasses of Worthy Brewing experimental hop beers.

I participated in this at their Eastside brewery and taproom in Bend. I know what I thought of the new hops–as used in these beers–and now it is your chance as they are taking the beers on a mini-tour to several Portland locations and one in Gresham.

If you are interested in hops and would like just a smidgen of input into the future of potential hops then this is for you.

The press release follows:

WORTHY BREWING’S TOURING OREGON FOR FEEDBACK ON BEERS BREWED WITH EXPERIMENTAL HOPS

BEND, OR — Worthy Brewing will be holding tastings throughout Oregon and Washington on beers brewed with hops produced by Portland-based Indie Hops and Oregon State University’s Experimental Hop Breeding Program.

“We’re looking for the public’s feedback on the aroma and taste to help the Indie Hops/OSU program with future breeding projects,” said Worthy Brewing’s Brewmaster, Dustin Kellner. “It’s a great opportunity for craft beer lovers to help choose up-and-coming hop varieties.”

Worthy’s brewery team brewed up four pale ales using the following experimental varietals:  1007-35, C1002-37, G9-1-374 and  C115L-1.

Worthy Brewing’s team will be at the following venues holding flight tastings:

March 18 at 6-9 pm: Produce Row – 204 SE Oak St, Portland, OR 97214

March 20 6-9pm: Roscoe’s – 8105 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97215

March 25 at 2-5 pm: John’s Market – 3535 SW Multnomah Blvd, Portland, OR 97219

March 31 at 6-8 pm: Pacific Growlers – 11427 SW Scholls Ferry Rd, Beaverton, OR 97008

For more information, please contact Shannon Hinderberger at shannon@worthybrewing.com.

Worthy Brewing Company opened its doors in early 2013, delivering remarkably balanced, filtered ales that are hand-crafted using premium ingredients and the pristine water from the Cascade Mountains in Bend, Oregon. Worthy’s campus includes a large outdoor biergarten, full restaurant, and a greenhouse and hop yard onsite for growing estate and experimental hops in conjunction with Oregon State University and Indie Hops. An expansion will be completed in Spring 2017, featuring the “Hopservatory,” with a large telescope, “The Hop Mahal,” a banquet space, “The Beermuda Triangle” expanded indoor seating, and “The Star Bar,” an open air mezzanine bar.

 

OHBA at Starshine Brewery

Wednesday evening we hosted our friend and colleague, Tiah Edmunson-Morton, in a little get-together at our place with friends and acquaintances. Tiah is the archivist for the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives at the Oregon State University Special Collections & Archives Research Center of Valley Library, Corvallis, Oregon. She had come on her first official visit to Bend.

[I have been sadly remiss in writing about OHBA here. Previous mentions on this blog: Tap Into History: Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives Launch Party 4 Mar 2014 and In which I admit my slackardly tendencies once again run amok … 20 Dec 2013.]

We tried to bring some folks together that represent differing aspects of Bend’s hops and beer culture. We kept it “close to home” and brought in friends who are our most frequent beer drinking buddies and some folks we know but want to know better.

This was really a social event but one with a purpose, or perhaps purposes, for us. We were hoping it would give Tiah a chance to wind down some in between her two research days. And considering she walked all over Bend in 90°+ sunshine she deserved a relaxing evening of conversation and sipping local beers.

One of our purposes was to welcome Tiah to Bend. We helped what little we could with connections for her direct research. Another was to put Tiah in touch with some other aspects of Oregon beer culture. She has understandably been primarily focusing on hops growers and early craft brewing history in Oregon but is well aware that there is much more besides all of the new breweries.

We wanted to expose Tiah to a bit more of the consumption/consumer end of craft brewing and hops: folks who put on bottle shares, acquire certifications even if not directly in the industry, write local beer/brewing history books, blog, take and sell pictures of beer/breweries, cellar beer, visit breweries, …, drink the beer. There are also new hop growers, including some over here in the so-called High Desert of Central Oregon, and plenty of new breweries who need to begin considering their history and how best to conserve that. With all of that in mind, these are the friends we invited:

Miles Wilhem – Exploring Beer, Central Oregon Beer Week 2014; Smith Rock Hop Farm@whydrinkbeer

Miles and Jon & Sherri (see below) are some of the usual suspects that we’d be drinking with, although only infrequently together so that was nice. Miles is into putting on beer tastings as educational events, along with bottle shares. He was a major contributor to the small but hard-working team that put on Central Oregon Beer Week this year. He also is now the farm manager/foreman/handyman/do-it-all/? for Smith Rock Hop Farm. To us, Miles represents a lot about craft beer culture. He is also interested in being even more involved in areas he isn’t currently. Just recently he helped start Smith Rock Hop Farm in Terrebonne, Oregon and in my opinion the history of hops growing in Central Oregon needs to be captured from its birth/rebirth. [I’m going with rebirth as I suspected. One piece of evidence, see pg. 2 in the 1st of 2 massive PDFs of The Hop Press (2 parts here). And why you should follow @brewingarchives on Twitter.]

Jon & Sherri Abernathy – native Bendite, co-founder of Central Oregon Beer Week; author of forthcoming Bend Beer, The Brew Site, Hack Bend@chuggnutt @brewsite

Jon just is Bend beer. He grew up here. He knows most everyone and has for most of the lived craft beer history in Central Oregon. He just submitted the final manuscript for his forthcoming history of Central Oregon beer called Bend Beer. It is due out in Sep. Sara and I have had the privilege of doing some proofreading of the manuscript. We are looking forward to holding it in our hands and re-reading it. Jon was a co-founder of Central Oregon Beer Week three years ago and a big factor in its first two years. He is the primary author of both blogs, The Brew Site and the repeatedly award-winning, Hack Bend. Jon and Sherri hosted The Abyss vertical tasting back in January of this year. Months ago when Tiah and Sara and I were discussing potential Oregon beer blogger’s sites to scrape for the archive Sara & I suggested Jon’s The Brew Site blog. Really, without being directly involved in the industry, Jon just is Bend beer.

Bend Brew Daddy & Bend Brew Mama (Matthew & Lisa Ward) @bendbrewdaddy @bendbrewmama

I first met Bend Brew Daddy on Twitter a while back and we met in person at the Big Woody Barrel-Aged Festival in Portland back in Jan. We’ve seen each other here and there around town so it was nice to have them over. Matthew is tearing up the beer photography #beertography around Central Oregon and further afield, particularly via the Internet. Again, I think that the people in and around craft beer need to be documented. Matthew is producing fine works of art and having fun and making some money doing it, all the while supporting the breweries whose products inspire him. Also, we wanted to get to know Matthew and Lisa better.

Darin & Meghann Butschy – Oblivion Brewing

I first met Darin and Meghann exactly a year previous from this event. I was down at Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Café in the middle of the day hanging out and we were about the only folks in the bar this time of mid-afternoon. I was trying to behave but I was bored and buzzed and they were telling Jason that they were a new brewery in town and they’d like to bring some beer by and …. Once they were done chatting and Jason had wandered off, I took my toasty self over to the bar and introduced myself and gave them one of my cards. We chatted for a while and Sara and I’ve been there with them from their public start. Back when we lived closer and I could walk, I was at BTBS a lot in the afternoon when Darin (and once in a while Meghann) would be there. I was almost always drinking an Oblivion beer when he came in. I love Darin’s beers.

Meghann’s mind was blown when I mentioned to her that with them rapidly coming up on their 1st anniversary now it is time to start thinking about the history of the brewery and how to preserve that archivally. I truly like Darin’s beers and, to me, they are one of the very few standouts in all of our new breweries. So I am happy to help promote them. We also wanted to get Miles and Jon a little more familiar with Darin and Meghann and vice versa.

We sampled lots of local brews: Oblivion Aurora Golden Ale, Crux Double Cross, Crux Belgian Gale, BBC Scarlet IRA, BBC Sexi Mexi (thanks, Jon!), BBC Ching Ching, GoodLife Hat Trick triple IPA (quite tasty!), and GoodLife Mountain Rescue. Introductions were made. Conversations were had. Again, this was mostly social and just a start. Tiah is hoping to come back to Bend a few times in the future. And now when she reaches out to any of these folks they’ll know who she is.

Note: Starshine Brewery is the name of our [admittedly, currently nonexistent] home brewery. Untappd needs a name of a brewery, which also requires a named beer [our future massive Russian Imperial Stout is named Information Loss Paradox. Look it up. Being an aficionado of the many concepts and definitions of “information” makes it all the more intriguing to me in an ironic sense, among others. Especially for a massive RIS.] I got tired of not having a location for beers I was drinking at home and checking in so I had to create it in FourSquare/Untappd.

Hieronymous – For the love of hops

For the love of hops For the love of hops: the practical guide to aroma, bitterness and the culture of hopsStan Hieronymous; Brewers Publications 2012WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinderBrewing Elements Series

Read 8-17 August 2013

This entry in the Brewers Publications Brewing Elements Series provides exactly what its subtitle claims: “The practical guide to aroma, bitterness and the culture of hops.” I found it an enjoyable and enlightening read. Highly recommended to all beer lovers and not just hop heads.

This is not much of a review but is mostly my notes sprinkled within an outline of the book. Be aware: some sections—the larger breakouts—are not mentioned. “§” is a section or subsection heading.

Contents:

  • Acknowledgments     ix
  • Foreword (by Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada)    xi
  • Introduction     1
  • 1. The Hop and Aroma     15
  • 2. A Plant With a Past     45
  • 3. A Plant With a Future     65
  • 4. Growing Hops     87
  • 5. Harvesting Hops     113
  • 6. The Hop Store     131
  • 7. Hops in the Brewhouse     175
  • 8. Dry Hopping     205
  • 9. The Good, the Bad, and the Skunky     225
  • 10. What Works     239
  • 11. Epilogue     275
  • Bibliography     285
  • Index      301

Foreword

Ken Grossman writes,

“This book is an amazing compendium on the hop, written at a level that will captivate historians, chemists, and brewers alike. … This book is technically sound, very well researched and footnoted, and digs into the use and history of hops in a deep and relevant way, for those in the brewing industry and those just curious about this amazing plant.” (xiv)

I believe he is correct on all of those points.

Introduction: Hops in the twenty-first century

These notes were just to help me get a feel for some of the recent data on hop production and use.

     “High alpha/bitter hops constitute about 61 percent of hops planted worldwide and produce about 76 percent of alpha acids, which are traded as a commodity.” (4)

     “Aroma hop acreage worldwide shrank 49 percent between 1991 and 2011. Alpha hop acreage dipped 5 percent, but because farmers grew better-yielding varieties that contained higher percentages of alpha acids, overall alpha production increased 59 percent.” (4)

     “Although U.S. craft brewers made less than 6 percent of beer sold in 2011, they used about 60 percent of domestically grown aroma hops.” (4)

§ Me to Mirror: So you Want to Write a Book About Hops?

§ About the Book

     “The first chapter provides a primer on essential oils, the production of odor compounds, and how the human sensory system and brain turn those into aromas.” (11)

     “The second and third chapters examine the plant’s past and future.” (11)

     “Chapters 4 and 5 focus on the farm, growing hops, then harvesting and drying them.” (11)

     “Chapter 6, The Hop Store, includes a summary of all of the forms available to brewers and provides vital information about and descriptions of 105 varieties.” (12)

     “The hop arrives in the brewery in Chapter 7, the first of three that look at the chemistry of the hop; extracting, calculating, measuring, and understanding bitterness; the results of different additions throughout the brewing process; and ways brewer may maximize the benefits of using hops. The eighth chapter deals specifically with dry hopping, both how brewers add hops post-fermentation and all the variables they consider. Chapter 9 includes … measures brewers may take to assure quality, the benefits hops provide in sustaining beer quality, and the possible details.” (12)

     “In Chapter 10 brewers provide recipes that illustrate how they use hops.” (12)

     “There are no predictions about future fashion in the final chapter, but there are some thoughts from participants who will have a direct impact on “What’s next?”” (12)

1. The Hop and Aroma: The legend of BB1, and why you smell tomato plants and I smell tropical fruits

§ Hop Oils: Secrets Not Yet Revealed

Reiterating for myself what hops do in/for beer:

    “… seven positive attributes hops contribute in brewing:

  •           Bitterness
  •           Aroma
  •           Flavor (a combination of aroma and taste)
  •           Mouthfeel
  •           Foam and lacing
  •           Flavor stability
  •           They are anti-microbial, …” (19)

§ Less Is More and Other Aroma Secrets

     “[Buck and Axel] later found that closer to 350 of the [olfactory] receptor types may be active, but even that number dwarfs the four types of receptors necessary for vision. About 1 percent of human genes are devoted to olfaction. Only the immune system is comparable, which is one reason smell is referred to as the “most enigmatic of our senses.”” (28)

I found this fascinating, although one must be careful making such arguments for “complexity.”

§ Hop Aroma Impact

§ The Language of Aroma and Flavor

     orthonasal (breathing in) vs. retronasal (breathing out) (36)

     The Beer Aroma Wheel from Hochschule RheinMain University of Applied Science (38, en27 [GET])

§ Why You Smell Tomahto and I Smell…

When it comes to our own experience of smell (and, honestly, anything else), we are each truly unique snowflakes. These short excerpts don’t even comment on how our own unique experiences effect (and construct) our sense of smell (and memory, which is a critical component).

     “Women (on average) detect odors at lower concentrations, are more likely to rate smells as more intense and unpleasant, and are better able to identify them by name.” (39)

     “… everyone has about 350 olfactory receptors. They aren’t necessarily the same 350 receptors, providing a biological reason why two people will perceive a combination of odors, such as from a single hop variety, differently, or one of them might be altogether blind to a particular smell.” (39)

2. A Plant With a Past: How hops became basic ingredient in beer, and the varieties that emerged

     “”Beer is a popular subject, and the literature abounds in unsupported statements, misleading or inaccurate quotes, and inadequate references.”1” Quoting D. Gay Wilson (45/61)

This could be said about any topic around beer, sadly.

     “The genus Humulus likely originated in Mongolia at least six million years ago. A European type diverged from the Asian group more than one million years ago; a North American group migrated from the Asian continent approximately 500,000 years later. Five botanical varieties of lupulus exist: …” (46)

Geographic dispersion.

     “Because the pollen from hops and hemp are identical, it is difficult to use archaeological evidence to distinguish between the cultivation of hops and the cultivation of hemp, leading to considerable confusion about where and when hops were grown.” (48)

Really, identical?! Can they be cross-pollinated? What results? Is there a difference in the result if use hemp versus marijuana? Intriguing questions.

     Stephen Buhner believes it was primarily the Protestant Reformation and competing commercial interests that led to the change from gruit to hops. Gruit ale was “highly intoxicating–narcotic, aphrodisiacal, and psychotropic when consumed in sufficient quantity.” Hopped ale was “sedating and anaphrodesiacal.” (50)

     Others believe differently. (51)

Religion is definitely a factor in many, many ways but there are also many other contributing factors.

     We have an American Hop Museum in Toppenish, WA. (54)

§ ‘We Like the Hop That Grows on This Side of the Road’

     “Hop geneticists call them landrace hops, implying that they reflect the area where they grow and adapted over time to that region. When breeders began to use cross-pollination to create new varieties they usually started from these genotypes because they had qualities brewers liked.” [Fuggle and Golding (England); Tettnanger, Spalter and Hallertauer Mittelfruh (Germany); Saaz (Bavaria/Czech Republic)] (58, emphasis mine)

     Hops are very adaptable to location/climate. (61) Much like hemp.

3. A Plant With a Future: Aroma is in fashion, but hop breeders still abide by the rules of agronomics

     “… most research is related to combatting new or old diseases, improving yield, making low-trellis systems viable, or other advances that serve growers.” (67-8)

     USDA program began in Oregon in 1930 (70), prompted by the spread of powdery mildew at a time when Oregon grew 50% of US hops (76)

4. Growing Hops: You don’t meet many first-generation hop farmers

§ Location, Location, Location

§ Size Matters, But So Does Family

Small editing mishap: “… is 12 times larger the average German farm.” (102) Missing a “than.”

Trying to get a grasp on US hop production and especially PNW:

     Large farms in the PNW; small almost every where else. (102-4)

     “The largest grower in Washington, Roy Farms, produces more hops annually than all but six countries.” (104)

     “In 2011 Washington farmers harvested 79.3 percent (by weight) of the hops grown in the United States, Oregon farmers 12.3 percent, and Idaho farmers 8.3 percent.” (107)

     “Farmers in more than a dozen states outside the Northwest grew hops for commercial purposes in 2012.” (107)

Another small editing mishap: A citation to endnote 22 appears on p. 110 but it does not exist in Notes; last citation is 21.

5. Harvesting Hops: Where the violence of picking machines meets the quiet of the kiln

§ Turning Acres of Hops Into Bales

§ Rubbing and Sniffing

     “Victory Brewing co-founder Ron Barchet travels to Germany every year to select hops. … Hop farmers in Tettnang grin in recognition when they hear his name.” Has long-term contracts and a very good hop nose. (122)

§ BO: A Brewer’s Guide to Evaluating and Selecting Hops (by John Harris) (123-9) – [an updated version of his 1999 Master Brewers Association of the Americas convention presentation]

§ Common Flaws in Hops

§ Hop Selection Team

§ The Brewer’s Cut

§ Hop Rubbing Descriptors

§ Hand Evaluation of Hops

§ Further Evaluation

§ Evaluating Pellets

§ A Checklist

6. The Hop Store: A variety of varieties come in a variety of forms

     Larry Sidor (now of Crux and prev. Deschutes) – worked at Olympia; converted hops to pellets and is his “biggest regret in life.” Then worked at S.S. Steiner (as gen. manager) in the Yakima Valley before joining Deschutes. (131)

     Sierra Nevada is the largest cone-only brewery in America (131)

§ Pelletizing and Pellet Products

§ Hop Extracts

     Russian River uses extract for the bittering addition in Pliny the Elder, also uses varietal extracts in Blind Pig and Pliny the Younger. Lagunitas uses extract in a wide range of its beers. (134).

§ Advanced Hop Products

§ From Admiral to Zeus

     an introduction to 105 varieties of hops in the pages that follow

     Cites a p. xx under Storage, but there is no p. xx!

7. Hops in the Brewhouse: Perception matters: You can have your bitterness and smell the aroma, too

§ Alpha Acids and Beta Acids

     Alpha acids – multiple alphas

          humulone, cohumulone, and adhumulone (pre- and post-humulone occur in small amounts.

          After isomerization by heat in solution they each occur in two forms, cis- and trans- (176-7)

          Cohumulone and humulone levels vary between 20-50% in diff. species, adhumulone 10-15% (178)

§ The Bitterness Drift

     Iso-alpha acids make the most contribution; importance of other elements varies greatly.

     Highly roasted malts add bitterness.

     Calcium sulfate gives a “crisper” hoppiness.

     Calcium carbonate exhibits a coarser bitterness.

     Lower temps suppress perception of bitterness.

     Level of polyphenols affects perception of bitterness. (181)

     People vary in their perception of bitterness as there are different receptors for different bitternesses. (181)

§ Understanding IBU and Calculating Utilization

     Three main formulas for calculating utilization (185, Calculating IBUs callout)

     “Brewers benefit from using the IBU as a tool in formulating recipes and maintaining a specific level of bitterness in regularly brewed beers, while recognizing that it does not perfectly reflect the quality of bitterness–which will be affected by various reaction processes as well as the composition of the bitter acids–or overall perception of bitterness.” (187)

     “Bitterness units and the amount of iso-alpha acids are equivalent only in the range of 15 to 30 IBUs, and then only when working with relatively fresh hops.” (188)

As usual, our shorthand “measuring stick” is only accurate in a very narrow range for which it is used.

     “And, again, recent research in Germany has shown perception of bitterness is not linear and reaches a point of saturation.” (188)

     Utilization is affected by many variables – Form of hops, boiling time and vigor, kettle geometry, wort gravity, boiling temperature, pH and mineral content of water, composition of the humulones (188-9)

     Bitterness levels will also drop by about 20% in fermentation (190)

§ Ready, Set, Start Adding Hops

     First wort hopping (191-4, also earlier)

§ Post-Boil Hopping

8. Dry Hopping: Scores of methods exist, but the intent remains the same: Aroma impact

     “Today the term dry hopping refers to the addition of hops in the fermentation vessel, in maturation vessels, or in casks.” (208)

§ The Universal Questions

§§ Form

§§ Temperature

§§ Quantity

§§ Residence Time and Number of Additions

§§ Fermenter Geometry

§§ Yeast

§§ Varieties

§ The Slurry Method

§ Hop Cannon

§ Torpedo

9. The Good, the Bad, and the Skunky: Taking responsibility for hop quality

§ Hop Quality Group: A Learning Process

§ Pellets: Easier to Store but Just as Fragile

§ Polyphenols and Phenols

     “Malt furnishes approximately 70 percent of beer polyphenols, although the hop contribution may increase with the addition of lower alpha hops.” (231)

     “Hop polyphenols enhance flavor stability because of their antioxidant properties, which suppress the formation of undesirable staling compounds. As any brewer making heavily dry-hopped beers may testify, they also provoke beer haze.” (232)

§ ‘Skunky’ by Any Other Name (‘Imported’) Is Still a Fault

§ Some Like Their Hops Slightly Aged, Some Quite Old

§ Dry Hopping and Flavor Stability

10. What Works: Theory aside, what matters is what ends up in the glass

     “Tip: “It’s best to brew dark beer at night,” said Hlavsa, “Because that way the darkness gets into the beer.”” (261) [Comment from a Czech brewer.]

11. Epilogue: The future has already arrived, so what about the future?

Bibliography

Index

Final comments:

This is an excellent addition to this series and is a superb book in its own right. Highly recommended to all beer lovers. I own this one and recommend you do to.