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Home | Features | Germany favours flavours

Germany favours flavours

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Pichlmaier is realistic about the rise of flavour hops

Germany is storming ahead in the development of flavour hops

We wrote last week – in Flavours in Favour - of an increasing number of hops that can be defined as neither alpha nor aroma. Flavour hops, as they are known, are becoming more and more popular, driven by a growing demand for new, ‘different’ tastes in beer. 

And while flavour hops are being grown in a number of regions, a strong government-led research programme may have given Germany the edge. 

The 'excellent scientists' at the hop research centre in Huell are at work on several new varieties, says Johann Pichlmaier, managing director of German hop co-operative HVG.

This year will see the start of commercial production, albeit on a small scale, of several, including Polaris, Mandarina Bavaria, Hallertau Blanc and Huell Melon. 

And while these new varieties have distinctive notes - for instance, Polaris is flowery and Hallertau Blanc is grape-like - Pichlmaier is at pains to emphasise that, contrary to reports seen in the German media, they will not produce flower- or grape-flavoured beer. "The beers will still taste of hops, but they will have a special note", he says. 

With these new varieties being planted up in 2012, it will be a couple of years yet before they are ready to use, points out Barth-Haas Group head of sales Thomas Raiser. And although there is already a waiting list for samples, "much will depend on brewers' willingness", he says. They may be asking for samples, as he points out, but they are not yet at the forward contracting stage. Deciding how - and indeed, whether - to use the new varieties will take time, and a degree of courage. 

They may be cautious about the new varieties,  but German brewers are not the only ones whose curiosity has been piqued. "There has been interest from breweries all over the world," says Pichlmaier. "Both microbreweries and larger breweries". 

He remains realistic about the rise of the flavour hop in Germany. "I don't expect these new varieties to replace the existing varieties being used in beers at the moment", he says, while Raiser adds a further note of caution, pointing out that it will be some time before we know what varieties work best.

Flavour hop production in Germany remains very much a work in progress, but it will be interesting to see how it develops - and what level of threat those 'excellent scientists' really pose to other flavour-hop producing areas. 

Further reading:

Hop market report

Flavours in favour

 

The Beer World Cup