There are hop varieties in the pipeline that can impart completely unprecedented flavour characters to beer, according to pioneering hop breeder Jason Perrault.
A fourth generation hop farmer and breeder in the Yakima Valley, Perrault is CEO of Select Botanicals Group, creator of celebrated varieties including Mosaic, Citra and Simcoe.
While in Australia last week, he told Radio Brews News that there are several new research varieties currently making a name for themselves.
A hop currently known as HBC 438 offers strong tropical fruit aroma, as well as mint, coconut and vanilla characters, Perrault said.
“What’s really great about it is all those flavours translate into the beer,” he said.
“That’s not always the case, nine times out of ten you smell something really great in the hop but it doesn’t translate the same into the beer.”
Perrault said the closely related HBC 472 has similar characters, “but the more vanilla coconut woody character is much more pronounced”.
“It comes across almost as a barrel-aged character, even to the extent that it provides a bit of a tannic mouthfeel,” he said.
“In some blind trials we’ve actually had people pick it out as a barrel-aged beer and that’s solely from the hop, so that’s pretty exciting.”
Perrault said other hops currently in development may remove all need for brewers to make separate fruit additions to their beers.
“We have one right now that provides a grapefruit aroma that you would would swear was from straight-up grapefruit juice,” he said.
“It’s becoming quite popular to add fruit to IPAs, which I’m fine with, but I think it would be pretty kick ass if we could do that with hops rather than with adding fruit. I think in many ways we can, with [hop] breeding.”
Hops to retain starring role
Perrault said that even if the current excitement surrounding hop-driven beers does eventually subside, the ingredient’s role in beer has been forever changed.
“I do think that we’ve established a bit of a new normal, in that hops will never be relegated back to just being that slight nuanced spice,” he said.
“They’ve become so much to the forefront that even those styles that once didn’t rely on hops can still subtly rely on them to differentiate themselves a little bit.
“I think they will, going forward, play a more important role than they traditionally did. Whether or not they will play as a big a role as they are right now, that’s another question.
“I certainly think they’ve kind of solidified and cemented their place in terms of their importance in the brewing process, versus where they were 10 or 15 years ago,” Perrault said.
Perrault has been in Australia visiting YCH Hops’ local distributor, Bintani Australia, which recently launched the proprietary hop blend Fortnight in partnership with the growers.
Episode 117 of Radio Brews News is available to download here.
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