The Hop Breeding Company, a joint venture between John I. Haas and Select Botanicals Group, continues to quench brewers’ insatiable thirst for vibrant hops and bold brews with the release of another exciting new hop variety. After 14 years in the making, LORAL™ Brand HBC 291 cv. has been chosen for its versatility and unique blend of noble and American hop characteristics. Along with its citrus and floral aromas, it is the perfect addition to HBC’s current hop portfolio.
“HBC 291 was selected based upon its noble (floral, citrus, earth, spicy) characteristics combined with its unique dark fruit character—essentially a noble hop with a uniquely American twist. The selection of the variety was supported by pilot brews by several brewers where it was confirmed that the character in the hop aroma is carried through into the brewed beer,” says Jason Perrault, CEO of Select Botanicals Group, LLC.
Straddling the fence between old and new world hop aromatics, LORAL™ has the ability to complement all beer styles, making it a very handy hop to have in the brewery. During its pilot phase, it was brewed by commercial brewers such as Lagunitas, Stone Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewery.
"HBC 291 is the perfect hop when you want an American take on noble hop character: floral, spicy, mint, herbal & slight eucalyptus all in one," says Jeremy Marshall of Lagunitas.
After its long road to commercialization, Select Botanicals Group is now working diligently to maximize availability of LORAL™, expanding acreage throughout the Yakima Valley this harvest season and eventually the Pacific Northwest. The journey through the breeding process has a number of important steps to ensure viability, quality and more. Here is a quick overview of the 11+ year process!
Year One: Parental Selection
During the first year, breeders focus on parental selection and crossing, developing on average 40,000 genotypes in an effort to produce at least one new hop variety that not only meets the needs of the industry, but demonstrates quality growing characteristics such as yield, storage stability, and disease resistance.
Year Two: Early Selection
Early selection begins during year two with green house and high density field screening. Only 10% of the original class of genotypes will make the cut during this selection.
Years 3-5: Intermediate Selection
During intermediate selection, the new genotypes are transferred to an 18 foot trellis system for a three year trial period. Here the plants will have to survive life in the field. Approximately 0.1% of the plants from the class will make it past this stage and move on to advanced selection.
Years 6-8: Advanced Selection
In this stage the remaining plants are moved to 7-hill (seven plants)plots. Over the next three years, the varieties will be selected based on quality brewing attributes. These include characteristics like high alpha acid content and unique aroma and flavor profiles. This is also the stage where the varieties are assigned accession numbers, such as HBC 291.
Years 9-11: Elite Trials
After nearly a decade, 40,000 genotypes will have been narrowed down to one or two varieties that best represent the original breeding objectives of that class. These selections are expanded to one or more acres and the harvested hops will be released for experimental brewing.
Years 11+: Final Release
Once a hop is released for commercial production, brewers can be assured that the chosen variety represents only the highest quality standards and unique brewing attributes.
LORAL™ HBC 291 cv. will be officially released at the 2016 Craft Brewers Conference this week and will be sold in both whole leaf and hop pellets. We invite you to share your experience with this new hop variety on its designated hop variety page on our website.
Select Botanicals Group LLC (SBG) is an integrated botanical management group that specializes in breeding new hop varieties. SBG was started in the late 1980s as Yakima Chief Ranches by the Carpenter, Smith and Perrault families with the late Charles “Chuck” Zimmerman as the first breeding program director. Initial breeding efforts led to the selection of Ahtanum™ YCR 1, Palisade® YCR 4, Warrior® YCR 5 and Simcoe® YCR14.