In our last blog post, we handed over the reins to Anca Solberg from Indie Hops, who shared some fantastic insights on how to develop new craft beer hops. Those of you who have been following Indie Hops will know how these Oregon hop maestros consistently deliver incredible new craft beer hops which bring new flavours and aromas to the craft beer game, which also being more sustainable to grow too. Our recent collab project with DEYA Brewing Company and Indie Hops has allowed us to dive a little deeper into the background of how these hops get grown and developed, but you’ll be interested to know what it’s like to brew craft beer with Indie Hops varieties too, right? Well, as part of our collab project, DEYA went over to visit Indie Hops in Oregon for the Pacific North West Hop Harvest, to select their hop lots, and then brew with them just a few weeks later.
We’re now lucky enough to have Gareth Moore, the Head Brewer at DEYA, pen us a blog post all about the collabs, on working with Indie Hops as a supplier, and brewing with their hops too. Over to you Gareth…
Working with Indie Hops over the last 3 years through Loughran Brewers Select has been a pleasure. Obviously the most important thing for DEYA as a brewery is that the hops we use are top quality and Indie Hops have always delivered. Their approach to bringing new hop varieties through seems very focussed and carefully considered. Also all the new varieties we have been lucky enough to use from them (Strata®, Lórien®, Luminosa™ ), have had a level of individuality that is not always seen in hops.
Working through Loughran Brewers Select is always very easy. Keeping production running at a high standard and on time is often a challenge and Loughran Brewers Select are very easy to deal with. Clear communication and efficiency makes our lives so much easier, so thanks to all the people in the office and in the warehouse behind the scenes who make that happen.
"Obviously the most important thing for DEYA as a brewery is that the hops we use are top quality and Indie Hops have always delivered. Their approach to bringing new hop varieties through seems very focussed and carefully considered."
This year’s hop selection from the Crop Year ‘22 harvest in Oregon was great for lots of reasons. One of the main ones was the fact we got to meet Jim Solberg, Anca Solberg and Matt Sage from Indie Hops in person. They were great hosts to us during what is always an extremely busy time of year for hop farmers and producers in the Pacific North West. We did lot selection of Strata® and it was…intense! We got 8 different lots to choose from and it was the most difficult choice we had to make on the whole hop selection trip. The quality was so high as well as the consistency. Me and Theo (the owner of DEYA) were struggling to make our final decision. That’s a nice ‘problem’ to have!
Obviously Indie Hops want to get their new varieties out there, but I think there is often a forgotten element of trust between the hop supplier and the brewery. As a brewer I want good hops, but we need to make sure we pay the hop supplier back by using their hops to good effect and representing what they stand for as a company. Both parties should seek to help each other, and that is the sort of relationship we have with Indie Hops and also Loughran Brewers Select.
Although we make a lot of new beers, around 50% of our production is one beer. This means we have less capacity than some breweries to try new things, and so when we do we feel we really need to make it count. Being able to completely trust the hop supplier for quality, consistency, and delivering unique flavour and aroma combinations gives us peace of mind when we are going to take on something new like a brand new hop variety.
"Being able to completely trust the hop supplier for quality, consistency, and delivering unique flavour and aroma combinations gives us peace of mind when we are going to take on something new like a brand new hop variety."
For our recent collaboration project with Indie Hops and Loughran Brewing Stores we wanted to brew with the freshest hops possible, so we used three Indie Hops varieties which we’d selected in Oregon on the 19th September and which had then ‘followed’ us home in double quick time so we could brew with them on the 12th of October. We wanted to focus one beer on each of these varieties – Strata®, Lórien® and Luminosa™. So we rebrewed two old favourites, and introduced a new beer with a tweak on an existing recipe to celebrate working with a new hop for the first time. The beers were ‘Steady Rolling Strata’ 5.2% Pale with Strata® hops, our ever-popular ‘Shadows of Conversation’ 2.8% Table Beer featuring Lórien®, and ‘Into the Light’ a 6.2% IPA with Indie Hops Luminosa™.
We have been using Strata® for 3 years now and it’s one of our favourite varieties. For a brewery whose focus is aromatic hoppy pale ales it has so many positive aspects: Intensity, bright fruit aroma and flavour, and very low levels of grassy/savoury aroma. These things mean that it can stand tall when used on its own, but perhaps more importantly, it plays well with other varieties too. Very useful!
For me Lórien® is special as it occupies a sensory niche that is really uncommon. It has some bright fruit aromas and flavours which are not as intense as many other US varieties but they are very distinct. I get lots of nectarine and strawberry and some fresh lemon zest. It also has some really nice noble characteristics. Some fresh grass and very light black tea notes. This, coupled with the fact it is low alpha, means it can be used throughout the boil to layer up the hop flavours and give lower ABV beers more structure. Me and Jim Solberg from Indie Hops talked a lot about Lórien® when they first launched it as a new hop variety and how we hope it will find its way into more low ABV pale ales and lagers as it’s so well suited to them.
Luminosa™. The newbie. This hop is very exciting and it was a great privilege to be the first brewery outside the US to get a chance to use it, so extra special thanks to Loughran Brewers Select for making that happen! It has an extremely clean bright aroma of ripe pear and old fashioned lemonade, and no detectable herbal or savoury flavour whatsoever. This is especially exciting as a lot of the varieties that have big fruit aroma will often have something below the surface that can be a little distracting. We often say in the brewery that less is more but I think we could be very heavy handed with this hop and still achieve our signature style.
We’ve really enjoyed working with Indie Hops and Loughran Brewers Select for the last few years, and this collaboration project has been a great expression of that. It’s been good fun for us to really dive into the Indie Hops varieties, and to again try a brand new variety for the first time this year. The experience of brewing with such incredibly fresh hops from the fields too has been fantastic, I’m sure it has made a difference to the aroma intensity of the final beer. The collab beers were a great way to round off a fantastic autumn for us, and a memorable time spent in Oregon for Hop Harvest 2022 and meeting Indie Hops. We’re already eagerly awaiting the next new Indie Hops variety to emerge from the development fields so that we can get brewing with it!
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