The Long and Winding Road
It started in 2009 with the launch of our breeding program. Tens of thousands of new hop genotypes have run the gauntlet, yet just one made the cut for commercial trials by 2016. It’s not for lack of effort! Dr. Shaun Townsend of OSU has been prolific with breeding crosses, and tireless in the growing and evaluation of the plants. A parade of OSU undergraduate and graduate students have worked in the program, our two primary farm partners have supported farm trials, and our staff at the Portland headquarters have dry rubbed…dry hopped…and pilot brewed over a thousand finalists looking for rare gems. One new genotype, Strata, was launched for full commercial release from the 2018 harvest. Nine years….and that’s fast in the hop breeding world!
Good thing that new commercial hop varieties aren’t the only benefit of a hop breeding program! This is a hop research and education program too. OSU students get hands-on experience while working in the program, whether in plant breeding or hop chemistry, and we ourselves benefit from evaluating hundreds of new genotypes each year to glean more hints of what makes any given hop a standout in beer.