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Old 10-24-2008, 04:26 PM   #11
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Now if you want to say the growers in Yakima aren't as adept as those in Kent...well, that's a different line of reasoning entirely.
I don't think it's whether they are adept -- I think it's that they simply aren't making the adjustments that you mentioned. They're taking the hop as-is, and growing it in their soil as-is, rather than tweaking variables to make it a pseudo-"clone" of that hop. But I'm just guessing.
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Old 10-24-2008, 04:33 PM   #12
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Definitely agreed. However I can attest that the Yakima Goldings are a passable substitute for EKGs or Fuggles. They're by no stretch "identical", but they make a very tasty substitute. I'm just about to finish up the pound of them I bought last year.
That's the crucial thing, Chris - "passable". Substitution is important, especially in today's hops crisis. (I keep thinking we need a "breaking news" graphic any time this is mentioned! )

However, I see too many people minimizing the differences between cultivars. The flavors may be similar, but they are by no means identical. That's all!

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Originally Posted by Balto Charlie
This is probably true to some degree. To what degree is the question. If there is a dramatic difference then think about all of the homegrown hops. Does anyone growing Cascade really have Cascade??? Is the only "true" Cascade grown in the state of Washington?? What will my Cascade taste like as it is grown in Baltimore? Baltocade? Just some thoughts for your minds
Sure, you've really got Cascades. That's the plant from which your rhizome was cut. All I'm maintaining is that the environment in which your Cascades are grown is different than Washington state Cascades. Baltimore's climate is different from the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest, even if you match the soil chemistry.

Which leads us to...

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Originally Posted by Pelikan
I accept that challenge. I come from an agricultural family, and have personally grown everything from near-extinct French melons to aromatic herbs, and everything in between. If you know your plant, know its requirements, and satisfy those requirements, you're going to get the same thing, regardless of where they're grown. Everything else is placebo.
I invite you to investigate more closely than your family's anecdotal evidence. While you can manipulate soil chemistry, you cannot manipulate the weather, nor can you manipulate the difference between climatic conditions in the the area where the cultivar has its origins and your area. As I pointed out above, Baltimore has a distinctly different climate than does the Yakima Valley; to argue that this makes no difference between produce grown in both areas is pure folly. That's why Merlot grapes grown in California are different from those grown in Australia or Chile or France. Hell, in those cases, the climates are similar, never mind soil chemistry manipulation. But the differences seasoned consumers note are by no means the result of the placebo effect. Blind tastings confirm this.

Regards,

Bob
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Old 10-24-2008, 04:53 PM   #13
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Bob, with all respect, we're not talking grapes, and certainly not wine. If you have some literature or peer-reviewed articles to back what you're saying, I'm all for conceding. I've never grown hops personally, although I've grown plants very similar.

I minored in hort from Penn State, one of the best ag universities out there. We studied hops, among other things, so I'm drawing my feedback not only from personal experience, but also from respected PhDs in the field. I suppose you can call that folly if you'd like.

Hops is not a terribly complicated plant to grow, certainly not near as temperamental as grapes. I maintain that if you know your cultivar, and satisfy its requirement, you'll get near identical results, regardless of where its grown. I should emphasize that "requirements" encompasses environmental concerns as well.

One needs to be mindful that even in Kent there are large swings in temperature and conditions from one year to the next. It's not a static, ecological bubble. Just recently, Kent had a record high temperature of 101*F (for all of England, ever). Some years more rain, others more heat, others chilly. Et cetera. Goldings has to put up with all of that and produce a consistent result year to year. Indeed, Goldings was no doubt selected precisely because it could put out a consistent result in the face of a variable environment. One of the benchmarks of a solid strain, in any plant, is its ability to produce in thick or thin, and not just quantity but quality as well. In short, environment is bred out of plants as much as possible, and with a strain as pervasive as Goldings, I don't doubt that this has been done to a fair degree.

Thus, the minor differences in overall climate going to Yakima won't drastically impact taste, aroma, etc, to the point where someone sampling the final product will make a note of it. I'm not undercutting the differences between separate varieties, to be sure, but I am discounting the same variety, different local issue -- as far as hops is concerned. As long as a plant is not stressed, one here and one there will both provide near-identical results, assuming the same strain.

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Last edited by Pelikan; 10-24-2008 at 06:06 PM. Reason: Clarifying a few points.
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:15 PM   #14
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Bob, with all respect, we're not talking grapes, and certainly not wine. If you have some literature or peer-reviewed articles to back what you're saying, I'm all for conceding. I've never grown hops personally, although I've grown plants very similar.
I think this is a great subject and honestly don't know the answer. I hold a degree in horticulture and will talk to hop researchers I know. I have to think that location has to have some bearing on the hops cones. Just what that is, I don't know. In the meantime I did find this article, peer review no but an interesting attempt. I haven't read it but looks like they are seeking answers to similar questions. "The Great Hop Experiment"
http://www.oregonbrewcrew.com/obc_ex...s/obc_ghe1.pdf
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Old 10-24-2008, 08:42 PM   #15
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Just wandered back upon this thread, and I see it has sparked quite a debate.

I am going to have to go with the middle opinion on this I guess. I don't doubt in the least that different growing conditions can affect the way a plant grows. Hell, a plant in the back yard can grow differently than a plant in the fron yard. Different soils, wind patterns, sun exposure are just a few variables. Throw in climates from different parts of the world, and you get a ton more variables.

That being said, the same genes will tend to produce the same product regardless of conditions. It may grow slightly differently, produce more or less yield, but the basic characteristics will stay the same. A fuggle is a fuggle no matter where you get from, it just may have a slightly different profile.

Commercial brewers struggle with this on a regular basis, because of variances from even the same farm. They blend batches, use test panels and lab analysis to make sure they are getting the same every batch. We as homebrewers don't need to worry about things like this, so the same variety from a different place is usually going to be good enough for us. We probably won't even be able to tell a difference most of the time, and homebrew shops don't even tell us some times, just simply listing them as what they are not bothering with the origin.

So I think there probably is a difference, I just don't think it's a difference that we as homebrewers need to worry about.

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Old 10-24-2008, 11:26 PM   #16
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I'm going to concede. I was arguing from the standpoint of the curmudgeonly brewer who claims to taste the difference between East Kent Goldings and US Goldings, or Czech Saaz and ... er ... some other sort of Saaz. (Thus my comparison to grapes and wine, of which more below.) The market wouldn't support the expensive imports if there wasn't something to back it up. Jim Koch wouldn't contract with German hops farmers if he could get the exact same thing from the Yakima or Willamette valleys, because that'd be a cosmically stupid thing to do, business-wise.

If it were as simple as you say, Pelikan, there'd be no reason to continue importing Hallertau from Europe - or even to continue cultivating different varieties of Hallertau - because there'd be no discernible difference between any of the cultivars. I contend from experience and from discussions with other members of MBAA that there isa difference, and that the difference can be tasted. Indeed, if you read up on the subject, you'll find that perception of flavor and aroma can't be quantified by scientific analysis. In that way, bringing wine and grapes into it is perfectly reasonable.

I'm afraid this statement:

Quote:
the minor differences in overall climate going to Yakima won't drastically impact taste, aroma, etc, to the point where someone sampling the final product will make a note of it.
is borne out neither by my own experience nor the experience of professional brewmasters both of my acquaintance and known to me by reputation. But I don't have a degree in horticulture; I'm just a practical brewer.

And that's okay! We're all entitled to our own opinions.

Bob
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Old 10-25-2008, 03:53 AM   #17
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I'm going to concede. I was arguing from the standpoint of the curmudgeonly brewer who claims to taste the difference between East Kent Goldings and US Goldings, or Czech Saaz and ... er ... some other sort of Saaz. (Thus my comparison to grapes and wine, of which more below.) The market wouldn't support the expensive imports if there wasn't something to back it up. Jim Koch wouldn't contract with German hops farmers if he could get the exact same thing from the Yakima or Willamette valleys, because that'd be a cosmically stupid thing to do, business-wise.

If it were as simple as you say, Pelikan, there'd be no reason to continue importing Hallertau from Europe - or even to continue cultivating different varieties of Hallertau - because there'd be no discernible difference between any of the cultivars. I contend from experience and from discussions with other members of MBAA that there isa difference, and that the difference can be tasted. Indeed, if you read up on the subject, you'll find that perception of flavor and aroma can't be quantified by scientific analysis. In that way, bringing wine and grapes into it is perfectly reasonable.

I'm afraid this statement:



is borne out neither by my own experience nor the experience of professional brewmasters both of my acquaintance and known to me by reputation. But I don't have a degree in horticulture; I'm just a practical brewer.

And that's okay! We're all entitled to our own opinions.

Bob
I think you're misunderstanding some of what I'm saying, and perhaps simplifying the motivations of those driving the hop industry -- but I digress. We're both well read folks with an opinion, and we know how dangerous that can be.

Cheers!

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