My breeding program focuses on new aroma hops for the craft beer industry. The aroma hops that come out of Oregon are of a very high quality for brewing because of the distinctive flavors and aromas that they produce in the beer. Different varieties produce different aromas and flavors. And they can differ from year to year and from place to place.
The chemistry behind flavor and aroma is extremely complex. It’s a challenge to determine the optimum chemical balance within the hop plant to make it useful in a craft beer. It takes a lot of testing—from the simple rub-and-sniff, to complex, lab-based chemistry, to brewing beer with various hops and testing them with taste panels. It’s very labor intensive.
This is a relatively new breeding program at Oregon State. We are working on new hop varieties that will be well adapted for Oregon and that craft brewers will love to brew with. That’s the goal of the breeding program. And we’re getting very close; in a few years we’ll release our first variety. And that will be the beginning of providing brewers with a richer palette of hops to work with as they develop distinctive new beers.