Countless new hop varieties are created every year, so many in fact that they are given only a number. A hop has to really prove itself worthy before it actually gets a name. For example, Hop #01046 began its life in Prosser, Washington at the Golden Gate Roza Hop Ranches. During the summer of 2000, a female hop known as Zeus was cross-pollinated with a male known simply as #98004 (whose mother is in effect Nugget hops). Its lineage, therefore, is “50% Zeus, 18.75% Nugget, 25% USDA 19058m, and 6.25% unknown.”
The following year, seeds were collected and the plant was grown in a greenhouse for the next two years, and screened for powdery mildew resistance, along with gender, vigor, and cone type. By 2002, #01046 was exhibiting higher than usual alpha-acid percentages with good resistance and several other very positive attributes. The next year, 2003, #01046 was asexually propagated and rhizomes from the original plant “were dug, divided and planted into multiple greenhouse grown containers.” Eventually, 4,000 softwood-cutting plants were created and then grown at two different locations, the original Roza ranch and also at Golden Gate Emerald Hop Ranches in Sunnyside, Washington. These plants represented the second-generation of the hop plant.
Over the subsequent three years the hops were grown, sampled, tested and analyzed on a variety of factors. These tests confirmed that the new hop had good resistance to disease, along with exceptionally high yield and high alpha-acids percentages. The hops were harvested and processed into 200 lb. bales, which were tested using the ASBC (American Society of Brewing Chemists) spectrophotometric method and showed “average alpha-acids level of 17.5% and beta-acids level of 3.5%.” The alphas were almost exactly the same as Mom (Zeus) but with much less loss of alpha-acids in storage, a good sign.
In 2005, third-generation plants were created and a large-scale field test was conducted at the Emerald Ranch. Declared a success, #01046 was re-christened “Bravo” and S.S. Steiner, who operated the hop fields in Washington, filed a patent application. 2006 yielded the first commercially available Bravo hops.
For every one of these success stories, there are hundreds that never make it. But even getting this far doesn’t guarantee a hop’s success. How it works in the beer is the final and arguably the most important test. So what will it taste like in your beer? Nobody’s certain, though there is a great way to find out. Tomorrow you have an opportunity to sample at least 21 single hop IPAs, using only Bravo hops, made by breweries from around northern California. Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro is hosting their 2nd annual Drake’s Brewing Beer Festival and Washoes Tournament. Each brewery will also be serving some of their other available beers so you’ll have plenty of other beers to sample, as well. But it’s a great educational experience on several fronts. First, you get to try a new hop in its debut in a commercial beer. Second, you can see firsthand how different brewers using different equipment but the same hop and the same IPA recipe can craft 21 beers that all taste distinctively different (at least that was the experience from last year when Summit hop was used at the festival). It should be a fun time. Come join us at Drake’s for a memorable afternoon of beer, food, music and games. See you there.
Bravo Hop Characteristics:
Alplha Acids: 14.-17.%
Cohumulone: 29-34% of alpha acids
Beta-Acids: 3-5% w/w
Total Hop Oils: 1.6-2.4% v/w
NOTE: The patent filing lists Bravo as #01046 but the photo shows #1046. So far, I’ve been unable to confirm which is correct.