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In their increasingly challenging battle to meet the world’s insatiable desire, hop producers the world over are constantly looking to produce more hops. Not just more in terms of volume, but more in terms of new varieties, particularly those with appealing new aromas and flavours that they hope will capture the attention of the world’s brewers and beer drinkers. Recent successes in Australia include Galaxy, with much expected of the Victoria’s Secret hop that first appeared last year, making its way into the Our Dark Secret beer by Moylan’s, NÃ¸gne Ã and Hargreaves Hill at last year’s Good Beer Week.
With more and more new varieties entering the market – and greater numbers of drinkers taking an interest in what’s in their beer – there have been a number of attempts to classify hops. The latest comes from Tassie-based Hop Products Australia, which has just released its Hop Flavour Spectrum. It’s a simple chart splitting hop characteristics into four main categories – fruit, spice, resin, floral – with their 12 key commercial varieties plotted where they believe they belong. The aim is to talk in simple terms about what character each will lend to a beer.
“When you look at hop literature around the world people talk about the characters in the raw hop,” says HPA hop breeder Simon Whittock. “There are very few varieties where the predominant discussion is around ‘Use this hop for this character in beer’. We wanted to shift away from describing raw hops to something that is more relevant.
“Weâve had a pretty intensive programme of breeding new varieties in the past few years. We didnât want to make outlandish claims about them but needed a way to describe them to develop them in the market. Thereâs a hell of a lot of reading and new varieties out there, so it comes back to providing something thatâs more relevant.
“Germany has 18 different characteristics with subgroups. Thatâs fine, and really detailed, but we wanted something that was more approachable; less descriptive but a rough guide of where to place things, not trying to describe every last note.
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