Here’s a fun story.
Not sure about the ending.
But it’s looking good.
Back in 2009, my hometown buddy Jim Solberg and I decided to build a hop company. Our goal was to bring new flavors to your beer pint glass.
We built a pellet mill that specialized in preserving the lupulin glands, the happy place from which the flavor flows. And we partnered with OSU to breed new aroma hops.
At the time, Oregon hop acreage was nearing it’s historical lows. Our goal was to help Oregon hop farmers return to those days of glory 70 years ago when our state cultivated 30,000 acres.
Fast forward seven years. Thanks to our farm partners, our scientific advisors at OSU, a small army of brewers, and the Willamette Valley’s hop-hearty pollen rich atmosphere, we are pleased to report the rise of a budding prospect: X-331. Our little darling is the offspring of a German Maiden, Perle, and an open-pollinated Rogue Oregon Hop Stud.
Worthy introduced X-331 in our recent LookOut Freshop. Our customers noted it’s dank aroma, reminiscent of weed, and it’s tropical fruit forward flavor, with notes of passion fruit and mango.
Back in 2011, when Jim first gave X-331 a rub and a sniff, his eyes closed and he went back to his days of youth roaming through the Corvallis countryside, feasting on blackberries and plucking the low hanging fruit, all the while entranced by the omnipresent aroma of “Indian Tobacco.” You know, the kind of day you wish would never end.
Our brewers liked it so much we’re working on a new beer, which we’ll call Hop Star, featuring X-331. We’ll be experimenting with this new “one hop wonder” in the next three pilot batches from our Heart & Soul Series. Stay tuned. We'd love your feedback.
Meanwhile, if you’re interested in hop breeding, take a look at this powerpoint here. You’ll share our pride in noting that since 2010:
In the end, to build anything new and valuable, it takes a village. Worthy is grateful to Indie Hops, OSU, Goschie Farms, Coleman Farms, and all of the wonderful, smart and eager brewers who over the years have stepped up to help us narrow down the field of over 10,000 seeds a year to the 4 or 5 keepers that might one day, with a little bit of good luck, wind up in your pint glass.
Hops are the heart and soul of Worthy. We love everything about them – their flavor, their design, their history, the scientists who breed them, the farmers who grow them, the millers who mill them, and so on.
We love the old guard. Workhorses like Cascade, Crystal, Centennial, Chinook, Sterling, Willamette, Nugget and more. But we also can’t wait for the new generation of hops to alight our brew kettle.
Those fresh recruits are coming in fast. And we’re mega-stoked. In the next few years, Worthy will be pilot-testing more and more experimental hops that are emerging from the Indie Hops/OSU aroma hop breeding program.
My partner Jim Solberg and I started the program in 2009 with a gift to OSU of $1 million. Since then, we’ve developed dozens of new crosses (or genotypes), each with a particular aroma and flavor profile in mind.
In the past few years, the program has yielded several promising new genotypes. The flavors range from pina colada, to pomegranite, to green apple, to lemon citrus.
In 2012, I was so excited about the promise of brewing beer with brand new hops that I had a hand in designing that I decided to build Worthy Brewing. Why let all the other brewers have all the fun? Everybody loves to taste and test new spices.
The story of hop breeding is fairly complicated. We considered telling the story with charts, graphs, numbers and academic jargon. But, in the end, hop breeding is about sex. It’s about selecting the juiciest male ova and the heartiest male and hoping for a unique and powerful offspring. The story is as old as the Garden of Eden.
So with the help of my friends I made a video. Glorya: A Hop Love Story.
Glorya is a ripe, plump and juicy aroma hop from Corvallis, Oregon.
Glorya’s mother is Perle, a royal noble land-race hop from Germany.
Glorya’s father? We’re not sure. Glorya was open-pollinated. We suspect her Daddy was a rogue, Oregon hop stud floating around the Willamette Valley.
For the past six years, Indie Hops has been working with Oregon State to develop Glorya. She’s survived the farm trials and has performed well in our brew trials.
Enjoy the show.
In coming chapters, we’ll show you how Glorya survived the farm trials and brew trials. And, most importantly, we’ll show you how she performed on the stage where it matters most – in the pint glass.
In the very near future, Indie Hops and OSU will be releasing a variety of unique aroma hops whose genesis began in 2009. The future is very bright. Stay tuned.
Worthy Hydration! (L-R) Tyler Magner (Worthy Hopped Up Rider), Champion Karl Menzies, and Ryan Aitcheson. Bull Goose working the hambone.
* Photo courtesy of Resul Kurtbedin