What does “hop quality” mean?

Brewers are interested in several different measures of hop quality.

One of the main emphases of the recent Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference was hop “quality.” Several speakers including brewers, growers, brokers, and the president of the Hop Growers of Michigan, emphasized the importance of hop “quality”. Producing quality hops begins in the field but doesn’t end there. Growers, harvesters and processors need to take important steps to ensure that the final product is properly transported, picked, dried, baled, pelletized, packaged and stored.

Michigan State University Extension recommends that to meet brewers expectations processors should have quality control measures in place to ensure hops are free of foreign material. In addition to providing brewers with a sample, brewers would also like quality measures included as well. Several in particular should be included: alpha, beta, cohumulone, Hop Storage Index and total oils. There are labs in Michigan and throughout the United States that can run these analyses. Growers may also want to consider a USDA certified seed, stem, leaf test as well to demonstrate to brewers that their hops are free of foreign material.

While the majority of brewers will primarily use a “rub test” to select hops, the quality tests above will provide them with the information necessary to discern between samples. Presenting samples to brewers with this level of detail may help Michigan growers sell more hops.

For more information on hop quality, including presentations from the recent Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference please visit our website at: www.hops.msu.edu.

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