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Pay no attention to the man with the big moustache

Jim Boyd, Roy FarmsI apologize, because what follows is strictly American hop industry inside stuff. But I’ve reached the hops section of Miracle Brew: Hops, Barley, Water, Yeast, and the Nature of Beer, which has left me a bit giddy.

In the introduction, Pete Brown writes, “I’ve made it very easy for you to dip in and read first about the ingredient that interests you the most, which is probably hops, but I wouldn’t recommend that.” So I started with barley, read about water, and now I’m surrounded by hops. And page 245 a bigger-than-life character is introduced. Pete never gets around to using his name, but industry types will recognize who it is immediately. And the whole exchange makes me laugh.

Excerpt from

If nobody adds the name in the comments I will in the next day or two.

While you are here, a reminder you might want to sign up for Hop Queries, a newsletter that should appear in your email box once a month. It will contain more useful information than the identity of Giant Moustache.

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Weekly beer links: International edition


Pay no attention to that elephant in the room. More long (and I dare I suggest passionate?) screeds this past week related to AB InBev and buyouts in general. But there is a whole world of beer out there . . .


Burnt by the sun.
This is from last summer, but it just hit my radar. “Defying centuries of Christianisation, the Chuvash are still largely a pagan people with colourful rituals and a pantheon of gods that make ancient Greece look like a spiritual backwater.” And they grow hops. Not like in the 1980s, but there is a plan. [Via Calvert Journal]


The true import of South African hops.
Yes, that is the elephant over there, but last week I suggested a conversation about South African hops should include South Africa and now somebody has. [Via All About Beer]

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Less is more: This is your brain on hops

Your brain on hops

Chatter about the increasing popularity of pilsner, maybe even pale lager, is pretty constant on Twitter, but got a little louder following a recent story in The Washington Post (“Make room, hoppy IPA. Pilsener is the buzzy new craft beer”). In it, Matt Brynildson makes it clear that Firestone Walker’s Pivo Pils is a hoptimized, Americanized version of a pale lager.

But time moves on and memories fade. After drinking fresh Pilseners on trips to Europe, Brynildson decided he wanted to bring one back to Southern California. That became Firestone’s Pivo Hoppy Pils, which uses German hops, malt and yeast, but adds dry-hopping with spicy, citrusy Saphir hops, a technique not used in the old country. “I put it under the nose of a German brewmaster, and they say, ‘This is nice, but this is not a Pilsener,'” he laughs. “Pivo is just too aromatic, too hop-aroma-forward for Europe.” It does well in hop-crazy America, though: Pivo won gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival every year from 2013 to 2015. For IPA lovers who are just moving into Pilseners, there’s something more recognizable from the level of hops, even if they don’t taste the same as the tropical hops in, say, Firestone’s Luponic Distortion IPA.

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Coming in May, a newsletter for hops lovers

'For the Love of Hops' newsletter

I don’t plan to call it Postcards from an Oast House, or The Lupulin Letters, but these days a newsletter seems like a good place to park bits of hop-related flotsam that you’d rather see remain infobits a good idea.

Sometimes we are talking bad rumors. For instance, that the collaboration beer brewed by Pinthouse Pizza, Wicked Weed Brewing and Creature Comforts Brewing to showcase some of the new Cryo Hops from YCH Hops contained seven pounds of LupuLN2 powder per barrel. That would be comparable to 14 pounds of hop pellets or 7% of a 200-pound hop bale for in 31 gallons of beer. The day after I heard the rumor I saw Creature Comforts head brewer David Stein at the Craft Brewers Conference trade show. He and his fellow conspirators “only” used the equivalent of 6-and-half pounds of pellets per barrel, most of that powder. Crazy, but not insane. So infobits that merit more than a tweet, less than a post.

Expect a bit of agriculture, a dash of science, an occasional new variety, and always some hop geekery. As often as not you will be reading the questions I am asking hop scientists, hop farmers, hop breeders, brewers and anybody else who will put up with my questions.

It took me a little while to figure this out. That’s why some sentences are crossed out. I’ve decided to call the newsletter Hop Queries, because I know better than to promise Hop Answers.

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A hop by any other name: The un-Chinooking of Chinook

Pioneer Hops Chinook, now called CONNnookPioneer Hops in Connecticut has begun calling hops known as Cascade elsewhere CONNcade and Chinook hops CONNnook.*

Before your knee jerks because you thought you heard the bullshit marketing alarm go off, consider that this might be truth in advertising.

Hop farmers, and of course brewers, in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and now Connecticut have all commented about how less piney and resinous the Chinook they grow are than those from the Northwest. They are more tropical — mango and pineapple are popular descriptors, sometime peach — fashionable flavores these days. Brewers want tropical, but James Altweis at Gorst Valley Hops in Wisconsin says they are confused when they get a whiff of Wisconsin Chinook because the hops are expecting piney. “In the marketplace people are looking for the Chinook they know,” he says. So Gorst Valley renamed the variety Skyrocket.

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