9 Things I Learned About the ADHA

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Megan Twomey from Roy Farms, who also does a lot of work with the ADHA, spoke me by phone last fall. She talked a lot about the ADHA, farm level hop economics and how to evaluate hops. Here are nine highlights from that conversation.  

  • The ADHA started out as the “American Dwarf Hop Association”, but later changed the wording behind their acronym when their focus shifted from Dwarf Hops to developing new (standard size) hops. They are now the “Association for the Development of Hop Agronomy”.
    1. Dwarf hops are self-training and so low trellis systems require less labor early in the season.
    2. However, if a farm doesn’t have the extra set of equipment needed to mechanically harvest dwarf hops, they must be hand harvested and the economics do not always work out.
    3. Some English hop farms still grown dwarf hops on a commercial scale.
  • There are three farms that are part owners of the ADHA Agronomy.
  • The ADHA rents land from Roy Farms and does their research there. They also "borrow" some of the Roy Farms equipment in their research.
  • Some of the hop sensory trials they do with brewers is to feature the same hop variety grown at all three partner farms.
    1. Even though they are relatively close in proximity, there is some soil variation between the farms, and noticeable terroir differences.
  • Longer 'hang' times for hops on the bine can mean a more intense or more "dank" aroma.
    1. It can also lead to the production of onion and garlic like aromas.
    2. Another danger in leaving hops in their field too long are over-ripe shattering as they’re picked.
  • When determining the harvest date on a known variety, they will break open cones in the field for look at the color of the lupulin glands. Once the glands look good and aroma is good, they will take samples back for chemical analysis.
  • They also seek brewer input in determining picking dates when evaluating a new variety. They will collect around 2,000 data points before determining the best harvest window. During this process they'll present brewers with hops harvested at different times to see what their feedback is.
    1. In addition to hosting pro brewers for sensory evaluations during harvest, they have also hosted one of the homebrewing clubs from Spokane.
  • The ADHA threshold for releasing a variety, being sensitive to farm economics, is 10 bales per acre.
    1. Hop bales are 200 pounds of dried hops.
    2. Hops will lose about 75% of their weight during the drying process; 100 pounds of wet hops will give about 20-25 pounds dried hops (leaf form).
  • The ADHA has historically used the names of goddesses associated with farming and fertility for the hops they develop. Other companies have different naming conventions. The Hop Breeding Company, who farms land leased from a Native American tribe, tends to use Native American names.

The September Hop of the Month Club selection featured Pekko hops grown on Roy Farms. Pekko is one of the hop developmed by the ADHA. 

Learn more on the ADHA website

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