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Hops for the Future: Preserving the Nobility

In this ongoing series that looks at hop-related issues that will matter to brewers in the years to come, Stan Hieronymus spotlights the need to think ahead when it comes to securing the future of some valued hops from the past.

Stan Hieronymus May 17, 2021 - 13 min read

Hops for the Future: Preserving the Nobility Primary Image

Hops at harvest time in the Hallertau region of Bavaria. Photo: Joe Stange

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In the first two months after Atlanta’s Round Trip Brewing opened in February, its two best-selling beers were Pilsner and Straight Outta Munich, a helles. They hop the pilsner with Magnum, Tettnanger, and Spalt Select; the helles gets German Magnum and Tettnanger.

Craig Mycoskie, Round Trip’s founder-brewer, does not yet have any hop contracts, but he isn’t worried that Hop Head Farms (Hickory Corners, Michigan) will be out of Tettnanger or Select when he needs more. Like lagers themselves, we take them for granted—it’s as if nature herself chose the classic varieties and will always provide them. Some brewers even call them “Noble.”

However, that doesn’t mean they’re immune to climate change and environmental regulations. At times, hops with old-fashioned characteristics are exactly what you need to make old-fashioned lagers and other classic styles. If growing those vintage varieties should somehow cease to be practical—and there are some indications that may be the reality—then breeding new ones with old-fashioned character is going to be necessary.

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