IPA, Double IPA, DDH IPA, DDH NEIPA… the hopped beer styles that have landed on draft spouts and wine store shelves in recent years feature hops prominently.
Hops are no longer just a bittering agent and bring a hint of spicy aroma like the more classic styles (Pilsner & Lager in particular). But now develop a range of aromas ranging from exotic fruity to resinous, through yellow fruit or red fruit.
These aromas are provided by the essential oil.
This contains more than 850 different compounds : Geraniol, Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Humulene, Citranol and Limonene: some are fragile and degrade as soon as the temperature exceeds 40°C. Others, fewer in number, are tougher, and survive boiling and fermentation.
For fifteen years there has been a race to find the variety that will contain the most essential oil. The USA developed new varieties in the 1970s: Cascade, Comet emerged from the first federal research programs, then Chinook, Centennial, in the 1990s. The discovery of these new lemony, fruity, resinous aromas triggered the wave of craft beers across the Atlantic.
From the 2000s, the now famous Citra®, Amarillo™ and Simcoe® came out. The pace of releases is accelerating, and the USA is joined by Australia, New Zealand, Germany, England (Nelson Sauvin™, Mandarina Bavaria, Huëll Melon, Olicanna, Pilgrim).
France is not to be outdone and is releasing a few protected varieties, partly financed by the ancestor of AB INBEV (Aramis, Barbe Rouge, Mistral, Elixir).
There are now very few varieties that are not added a “®” or a “™” to indicate that they are “proprietary” varieties.
This means that the owner of a variety, also called “breeder”, often a private company, has invested in a research program with its own funds, and delegates the cultivation to hop producers, who must respect very strict specifications. constraining (large surfaces, costly safety device, etc.). It thus charges hop producers license fees (royalties) to cultivate it.
The dazzling multiplication of proprietary varieties in recent years proves the very good vein that these companies have found, which put significant resources into promoting them on the market, with the help of influencers and events.
The owners of these varieties lock their access with patents, in addition to trademarks. This makes them impossible to grow…even in your garden…even for your home brew…
But if these protected varieties have become a marker for IPA, NEIPA, DDH IPA style beers, they are not essential: Cascade, Comet, Chinook, Sorachi Ace, Lunga, Centennial are examples of free hop varieties, anyone can try out their culture, with results in quality and quantity who have nothing to envy to their American or New Zealand cousins!
To help you choose a variety that suits your needs, visit the hop search engine www.listehoublon.fr