Not long after the Hop Quality Group (HQG) formed a decade ago, its members introduced themselves to hop growers by giving them beer during the American Hop Convention. Before long, they may be handing the farmers something different—the rights to grow totally new hop varieties that the brewers are guaranteed to want because they picked them out themselves.
“Their instructions were, give us something unique,” says John Henning, the USDA researcher who chose the parents of these fledgling varieties from the public germplasm bank. “Truly unique—not a replacement for this, or a replacement for that. They gave me the freedom to pursue something totally different.”