Attending the Craft Brewing Conference in San Francisco This Week?

Come see us at booth 2505 in the Imperial Ballroom of the Hilton Union Square Hotel. You’ll be able to examine brewer’s cuts of whole hops from the 2010 crop, check out our ‘coarse grist’ T90 pellets, and help us decide which varieties to pursue in the Certified Salmon Safe Certified Organic fields of our farm partners.

Here are some topics we’re focused on at Indie Hops.  Please stop by to share your thoughts and help us navigate the diverse needs of craft brewers:

Inspired by craft.  In the early days, craft brewers brewed with what they could get, which was, by and large, surplus malt and hops that had fallen off the big brewer’s table.  But now, as the craft brewing industry matures, brewers have much more say in the selection and processing of their raw materials. More and more, brewers will not be confined to merely finding novel ways to combine the same commodities, but will have access to materials that are novel themselves and designed for craft use. In line with this, Indie Hops wants to be your partner in the “de-commoditization” of hops for craft brewing.

Farm Expertise.  Sourcing from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, a unique hop-growing region for 150 years, we depend on the decades of experience and innovation that allows our growers to produce beautiful hops year after year, despite the challenges all farmers face. Connecting growers with brewers will keep desirable varieties in the ground and help keep supply and demand in sync.

Processing for Flavor.   The quantity, quality, and storability of alpha acid bitterness is of course an important aspect of hop flavor but it’s not the only one. Much has been said already in these blogs about the design of our pellets. We will continue to research and ‘think outside the box’ for the best ways to grow, harvest and preserve all the attributes of aroma hops.

Research and Breeding.  Indie Hops’ independence from ownership by either growers or brewers combined with our involvement in new research puts us in position to be a free and fair distributor of new knowledge which will benefit the industry as a whole.

Here is a short summary of some of that research:

Breeding

Indie Hops is providing large and long term funding to Oregon State University for the breeding of new hop varieties for craft brewers. Three areas are being developed:

  • Farm trials of released public varieties not commonly used so far because they were not chosen for commercial use by the large brewer that supported their development. These are siblings of Mt Hood, Willamette, etc.

  • Breeding new desirable varieties from parents that have previously produced successful cultivars.

  • Longer term effort to breed new varieties from novel source material.

Crop research

IH also supports studies at OSU to recognize practices on the farm which encourage the best flavor development and retention. In a continuing study, OSU is analyzing the aromatic oil content of hops harvested at different times.  The purpose is to better determine the optimum time to harvest.

Brewing research

With funding from Indie Hops, the OSU Fermentation Science program is studying the extraction of hop flavor in the brewery. Last fall they began a study on dry hopping in order to shed light on the particulars of getting hop oils into beer, post-fermentation.

Indie Hops encourages the participation of brewers in these studies to ensure relevance to practical needs, creativity, and curiosity of craft brewers.

Hop on by. We look forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones.

3/21/11

 


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