Hop Harvest 2005
In the wine industry individual varieties of grape are better or worse each year and vintners adjust what they make accordingly. With that in mind for beer styles and the harvest right around the corner I was wondering, since the weather has been unusual in the Northwest this year, if there are any particular hop varieties that are especially exceptional this year?
NW hops are exceptional every year. I don't know the dynamics of the hop harvest, but I drove by a field about a month ago and they looked awesome. Thats not really any sound information, I guess my point is buy domestic hops.
Yes the weather has been very unusual this year, but we seem to get some oddities every year. The biggest difference from year to year, are alpha acid differences. Weather can also affect cone size, which directly affects the yield. There can also be differences in varieties from field to field. I do find often that hops in the same field can be somewhat different in perceived quality. When we bring them in, we smell every lot and do a physical appearance evaluation. With all that being said, the biggest thing that a brewer must look at is the final chemical analysis information, especially alpha acids. As far as one year being better than the other, and using one variety verses another for a style of beer, that is done with each brewers own preference. One factor in the quality of hops is picking at the correct time and drying properly. I’ve seen a lot of good hops lose a lot of quality for one of those reasons. Another factor is insects and disease. These can be both somewhat weather related, but growers must be diligent in knowing when to spray. Sometimes if the pressure is too great, even with diligence, there could be quality issues. These are just a few thoughts. Let me know if you need anything more in depth.