What does it take to propel a new hop variety from seed to field to brewers’ kettles? These two breeders for Yakima Chief Ranches and John I. Haas discuss the process behind hop breeding, from parentage and crosses through elite status.
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HBC, the Hop Breeding Company, is responsible for developing some of the most compelling hop varieties in contemporary beer—Mosaic, Citra, Talus, and Sabro are just a few of the aroma hops the company has developed. But how does a new hop variety come into being, and what drives its development? In this episode, Jason Perrault of Yakima Chief Ranches and Michael Ferguson of John I. Haas—two leading hop breeders in the Yakima Valley and the driving forces behind the two-pronged HBC program—talk about what it takes to develop a new hop variety.
- the typical decade-long timeline for developing a new variety for release
- defining objectives for new hops, from agronomic efficiency and yield to aromatic potency and appeal
- taking plants from seeds crossed from two promising parents through single-plant, seven-plant, and larger field plantings
- positive and negative selection for desirable and undesirable traits
- evaluating new hops using a consistent base recipe in test brewing
- achieving elite status and finding brewer champions for new varieties
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