Developing Hop Varieties – BeerSmith Podcast 32

by Brad Smith on February 12, 2012 · 3 comments

This week we talk about American hop varieties and developing new hops. Al Haunold, a retired genetic engineer from USDA and Dave Wills from are my guests as we talk about how some of the most popular US hop varieties came about, how high alpha varieties are used now and how hops are grown.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (45:07)

  • Al Haunold and Dave Wills are my guests for this week’s podcast. Al is a retired geneticist from the USDA who played a major role in the development of most of the modern American hop varieties including Cascade, Willamette and many others. He is joined by Dave Wills from who is a provider of bulk hops and also hop rhizomes.
  • Al provides a summary of his career at USDA including some 30+ years of hop research and engineering hop varieties.
  • Dave tells us how he worked with Al at USDA before moving over to the hop growing business.
  • Al shares with us stories of how several of the most popular hops were created such as Cascade.
  • Dave and Al share how a new hop plant goes from inception to commercialization – a process that can take up to 15-20 years
  • We talk about how most modern hop varieties have a basis in traditional varieites.
  • Al tells us a bit about Willamette and how it came about.
  • Dave explains where the hop crisis of 2008 originated and how hop prices shot through the roof
  • We talk about the large shift in commercial hop production towards high alpha hops and hop extract
  • We end with a few tips for homebrewers

Thanks to Al Haunold and Dave Wills for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

crush March 9, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Really enjoyed the video format. Nice to see you and the people you are interviewing.

crush March 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm

I like the way you assertively state, as a good interviewer does, that some of the US hops are derived form English hops. Al nearly took two steps backwards! 😀 I brew with both, and enjoy both, but if they started out the same, they are very different now!

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