During the last week of September, Brewers Association (BA) staff conducted their annual hop sensory assessment, Hopsource, in Yakima, Washington. The purpose of Hopsource is to gauge brewer interest in experimental public hop varieties by harnessing the power of dozens of noses to crowd source hop variety acceptance. Hopsource is one small part of an industrywide effort to support public hop research. By bridging the gap between brewers and researchers, the ultimate goal is to inform public hop research, with an eye towards releasing varieties of interest to brewers.
The BA partnered with DraughtLab and Yakima Valley Hops to conduct Hopsource. DraughtLab designed the sensory experiment to be short and clean, to allow busy brewers to get in and out quickly during their busy hop selection days in Yakima. Individual participants evaluated flights of up to six hop samples, providing descriptive attributes and hedonic “liking” responses, in an easy-to-use app-based format. Ten varieties of advanced lines were assessed from both public hop breeding programs located in Corvallis, Oregon and Prosser, Washington. Yakima Valley Hops hosted the week-long event, with different flights of hop varieties each morning and afternoon. In total, 20 unique hop samples were evaluated by upwards of 50 participants per sample over the course of the two-day event.
Dozens of BA member brewers and other industry partners participated in Hopsource, with many groups returning for multiple sessions to assess different varietal flights. “It was really cool to evaluate public hop contenders through Hopsource during harvest,” said Jeremy Moynier of Stone Brewing. “The location was very convenient to stop by a few times when we had a few minutes to spare in between other hop evaluations. BA staff had a very organized process that was quick and simple to do. The Stone Brewing team got a lot out of the experience.”