Ramble On

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hawksbill Hop Yards - Varieties

An element of the business plan for Hawksbill Hop Yards includes selecting the varieties of hops we'll plant.  The deadline for ordering rhizomes via the hops co-op is February 1, so I have been working on making some selections for planning purposes.

Some of the useful information I have received from the co-op includes the suggestion that Cascade and Chinook are varieties that have done well, and a quick check of the varieties grown by the other members seems to confirm this.  I also ran some analysis based on the book Designing Great Beers, by Ray Daniels (Amazon link at the end of the post) to see what varieties were used in a few of my favorite beer types.

Daniel's method was to analyze recipes from many popular beers to determine the hop varieties used in them.  He then counted up the incidence of each to make totals.  The table below summarizes his analysis - my thought would be to build on the co-op recommendation with a couple of additional varieties chosen from those most frequently appearing in the popular recipes.

The choice of Cascade was confirmed; in fact, it occurred in the recipes most frequently and it was the most popular variety in IPA, American Pale, California Common, and American Brown.  Goldings was second place for frequency, and it was the most popular variety in English Pale Ale, ESB, British Porter, and American Porter.  So I am planning to plant these two varieties to start with.

Chinook, the other variety recommended by the co-op, is one of the top five most popular in the recipes, which I will take as a confirmation of its marketability.  It is my third variety.

Finally, while Cascade and Goldings fall in the lower end of the alpha "spectrum" - alpha acids being a major component of hops flavor, and Chinook falls in approximately the middle, it seems that I need to select a high alpha variety to cover all the basis.  Dan told me that he had good success with his first year Columbus, and checking the co-op page, I see a couple of growers planting Columbus.  Thus, even though Columbus isn't acknowledged in Daniels book, I am going to add it to my plan for the hop yard, with a fallback to Zeus, which is similar and often substituted.

Now to get to work on placing my order - hopefully all of these varieties are available in the quantities I need.  We'll order at the end of next week, and then plant in the late March - early April timeframe.

Here's the link to the book I mentioned above:

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