Beer news: New US hop varieties

Four new US hop varieties have been showcased at the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, Colorado.

The most surprising thing about them is they have been bred to have lower levels of Alpha acids (high levels are associated with many of America’s big flavour varieties) – giving US flavours but levels of bitterness more usual in British hops.

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The new varieties were shown off in a series of single hopped beers, in an identical base (a pale ale of around 5.5 to 6% ABV), brewed by Odell of Fort Collins, Colorado.

What did they taste and smell like?

Here are my personal impressions of the new varieties.

Tahoma: A very lemony and somewhat waxy aroma led into a mellow beer with a soft bitterness. There was a lemon and lime marmalade finish and aftertaste – spicy, cedary notes emerged as I continued to drink the beer.

Triple Pearl: A piney, cedar aroma initially but with orange blossom appearing as the beer warmed. There was a much bigger, zestier flavour than the previous beer with hints of orange marmalade and apricot jam. This one gave a very dry bitterness.

Cashmere: A very leafy aroma at first becoming tropical fruit salad-like as the beer warmed. An incredible lemon honey flavour as if lemon zest had been added to honey. A very soft, British hop style bitterness. This was my favourite of the four.

Yakima Gold: Very muted aroma. Vaguely peachy (but note I tasted this one later, in a busy room where food was being served). Incredibly dry bitterness! Hard to decipher the flavours. Tinned peach and mandarin perhaps. Lacked the flavour punch of the other three.

The new varieties currently have limited availability – 2013 crops ranged from a few rows to 10 acres of Triple Pearl – but there are plans to increase this particularly if there is enough excitement/demand from brewers.

Sadly, the Washington State University hop breeding programme that developed these new varieties is under threat as it only has one year of funding remaining. Although new ‘funding streams’ are being investigated.

For more information on US hops visit: http://usahops.org

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