Every year, we count the days until the AHA National Homebrewers Conference—a chance for us to meet home brewers, geek out about hops, gather valuable feedback and answer important questions like, “What’s the next new and unique variety I should use in my brew?”
This year’s conference was particularly exciting as we unveiled our new YCH HOPS brand to the home brewing community—complete with a 30 foot booth and more than 4,000 hop samples! As a new brand, there were a lot of questions to be answered and we were happy to do so.
The question of the hour (or conference) was simply, “What is YCH HOPS?” For those that don’t know, or maybe didn’t ask, we’ll break it down. YCH HOPS is our new hop and hop products brand, stemming from the recent combination of Yakima Chief, Inc. and Hopunion LLC. YCH is short for our new company name, Yakima Chief – Hopunion, and HOPS, well, it’s what we do.
While at our booth, attendees were able to touch, smell, and stick in their beards, a variety of whole leaf hop samples. A few of our wildly talented staff members were also on-hand to make hop recommendations tailored to each home brewer query and chat about brewing techniques and experiences.
Even bigger than the brand reveal was the unveiling of a new hop variety by Select Botanicals Group, LLC exclusively for the home brewing community. As the breeders behind popular varieties such as Simcoe® YCR 14 cv. and Citra® YCR 394 cv., can it really get better than that?
The announcement of this unprecedented release was made by Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Company, Jason Perrault of Select Botanicals Group and Perrault Farms, and Karl Vanevenhoven of YCH HOPS during the seminar “Brewing with Experimental Hops: A New Hop Variety Just for Homebrewers.” They presented the hop variety, referred to as HBC-438, and offered each attendee a taste of Ron Mexico, a single hop IPA by Russian River featuring HBC 438. To top off the seminar, they revealed the recipe behind Ron Mexico and announced that 100% of the proceeds associated with this hop will be donated to ALS TDI in support of Ales for ALS. In total, $140,000 will be raised for the cause!
Following the seminar, there was a buzz throughout the convention center surrounding this home brew-only hop variety as attendees flocked to the YCH HOPS booth to snag samples and further discuss its unique brewing characteristics. If you missed the conference all together, don’t worry! HBC 438 will officially be released and available in home brew stores nationwide as early as August.
Like any good NHC conference, the fun didn’t stop there! Pat Purcell, Vice President of Strategic Accounts and Marketing at YCH HOPS, offered a behind-the-scenes look at how experimental hop varieties journey through the breeding process and become popular hop trends during the “Confessions of a Celebrity Hop Variety: How Did I End Up Beer?” seminar. Pat discussed what it takes to breed and grow a successful hop variety, including using good genotypes and breeding for disease resistance. He then carried the audience through the growing process, allowing attendees to see exactly where great beer begins.
The weekend ended with a fantastic Grand Banquet where our staff was able to witness the oldest homebrew club in the country, the Maltose Falcons, receive the 2015 Radegast Homebrew Club of the Year Award. This award honors a homebrew club that is not only dedicated to home brewing, but also makes an exceptional effort to contribute to their local community. The Maltose Falcons organize and facilitate toy drives as well as donate a portion of their competition earnings to local charities. All of this, combined with their outstanding brewing skills, made them a well deserving recipient!
As sponsors, we admit we may be a bit biased in highlighting this award, however it was a great privilege to see such a historical group take top honors in this category. At YCH HOPS, we are always in awe of the talented home brewers we meet and the amazing beers that we are able to sample throughout the event. Our kudos go out to all winners in each of the 28 categories! It is no small feat to be crowned victorious in a field of 7,663 beers. Well done!While this event was a blast, we are already looking forward to 2016 and hope that you plan to join us as we help celebrate another year of phenomenal home brewing in Baltimore!
*Featured Photo: © Brewers Association.