Brewers Association Conducts First Ever Hopsource Sensory Assessment

This past week Brewers Association (BA) staff conducted the first ever Hopsource hop sensory assessment. 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 a very long-term multi-year effort to reinvigorate public hop research. By bridging a persistent 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 contributed 8-10 minutes per flight of hop samples, providing descriptive attributes and hedonic “liking” responses, in an easy-to-use tablet-based app format. Yakima Valley Hops hosted the week-long event, with different flights of hop varieties every morning and afternoon.

2018 Hopsource AppDozens of Brewers Association member brewers participated in Hopsource, with many groups joining in multiple times to assess different flights of varieties. “It’s a genius move to provide value to BA members – and the hop and brewing community at large – through crowd sourced hop selection,” said Larry Sidor, owner and brewmaster of Crux Fermentation Project.

In the coming weeks, the BA will provide aggregated data on nearly 50 experimental hop varieties to the Hop Research Council (HRC), which serves as the U.S. brewing industry’s unified voice for hop research, and will provide the feedback to USDA-ARS hop researchers.

The BA will repeat the Hopsource assessment during the 2019 Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America® (CBC) in Denver, Colo. to afford more members the opportunity to test drive the app and assess public hop varieties for themselves. Come see Hopsource at the Brewers Association booth during CBC!

Finally, the BA will also repeat Hopsource in Yakima in 2019 over a two-week period, during the peak of September hop selection activities in the region. Hopsource will take place September 16-20 and September 23-27, 2019. Brewers who visit Yakima during these weeks for hop selection are invited to attend Hopsource, and encouraged to participate during multiple sessions, as the varieties change every morning and afternoon.

Chris Swersey lives in Salmon, Idaho. He serves as supply chain specialist, seeking out long-term opportunities to ensure BA members have access to a sufficient supply of high quality ingredients. He represents the BA at the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute, the National Barley Growers Association, and on the Hop Research Council.

See Chris Swersey's recent articles and activities