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Anyone ever hear rumors that hop suppliers will falsely label hops?

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Ron C

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In one of my local homebrew supply stores a few months back, someone had mentioned a rumor that some online outlets for hops will sell less popular hops as a different hop. Popular hops will sell out quick, and they'll just relabel other hops and keep selling them.

Cut to yesterday, we're brewing a saison with Hallertau Blanc hops, but the label on the bag clearly has another label underneath it–like they just put a different sticker on top of the original one. I peeled the two off the bag, and from the reverse side I could clearly read the label underneath: Hersbrucker Pellet Hops.

It was my first time ordering from this store online. I googled it a bit and didn't find anyone else with similar complaints, but after hearing the rumor in my local store and then getting these hops I'm starting to wonder....

Anyone else have similar experiences with online retailers?
 

grampamark

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I’ve had customer service (YVH, in this case) call and ask if they could substitute. The hop I had ordered showed up as in stock, but by the time my order was processed it wasn’t. They gave me some alternatives and I picked one which would substitute for what I had ordered. If they had sent an appropriate alternative, without telling me, I probably wouldn’t have minded. In your case, Hersbrucker isn’t even close to Hallertauer Blanc (about 3% AA vs 10%).

Most of the larger online vendors have decent customer service. If you bring this to the vendor’s attention they might make it right, but that doesn’t help with your brewday issue.
 

HB_ATL73

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I have not. At least I hope not.

What online retailer did you use that this happened?
There is a chance that they just mislabeled the bag in the first place and you got your blanc hops.

If not then that is a serious problem that you should address. It reminds me of illegal diluting of spirits in bars. Defrauding consumers to make more profits is not right in any realm.

I would take it up with the company you purchased them through for a return/refund if you truly believe they intentionally sold you incorrect hops or tell them youll kindly spread the word
 

ncbrewer

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HB_ATL73 covered my thoughts, word for word. A serious breach of trust if this was an intentional switch.
 
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Ron C

Ron C

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I have not. At least I hope not.

What online retailer did you use that this happened?
There is a chance that they just mislabeled the bag in the first place and you got your blanc hops.

If not then that is a serious problem that you should address. It reminds me of illegal diluting of spirits in bars. Defrauding consumers to make more profits is not right in any realm.

I would take it up with the company you purchased them through for a return/refund if you truly believe they intentionally sold you incorrect hops or tell them youll kindly spread the word
Yeah, I'm gonna give them a call tomorrow. I'd like to see what they say/do before I go blasting them on the internet, so I'll update this thread once I hear back. I'm taking pics of the label as well for proof, but I'm not going to upload any pics until I know more.
 

K_tile

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Start a go fund me page and send it out for testing. We want the truth!
 

CodeSection

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I have not. At least I hope not.

What online retailer did you use that this happened?
There is a chance that they just mislabeled the bag in the first place and you got your blanc hops.

If not then that is a serious problem that you should address. It reminds me of illegal diluting of spirits in bars. Defrauding consumers to make more profits is not right in any realm.

I would take it up with the company you purchased them through for a return/refund if you truly believe they intentionally sold you incorrect hops or tell them youll kindly spread the word
@Ron C, I can't imagine a business that was truly trying to sell you a different type of hops would leave the old label on and just put a new label over it. If they were serious on defrauding, they would have removed the original label. I guess another explanation if they were serious on defrauding the customer, is that they were incompetent (stupid?) in leaving the old original label on the package.

As previously pointed out, it sounds like there was a mislabel in the first place. A business typically will not be in business long defrauding customers. I'm glad you are going to call them tomorrow. Too bad you couldn't buy an ounce of Hallertau Blanc hops from your LHBS to compare....
 
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Ron C

Ron C

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@Ron C, I can't imagine a business that was truly trying to sell you a different type of hops would leave the old label on and just put a new label over it. If they were serious on defrauding, they would have removed the original label. I guess another explanation if they were serious on defrauding the customer, is that they were incompetent (stupid?) in leaving the old original label on the package.

As previously pointed out, it sounds like there was a mislabel in the first place. A business typically will not be in business long defrauding customers. I'm glad you are going to call them tomorrow. Too bad you couldn't buy an ounce of Hallertau Blanc hops from your LHBS to compare....
Actually I may be able to buy from the local store! That completely didn't occur to me! Thanks!
Generally we don't get hops from them because they only carry 1oz bags. I typically go to YVH, but they were out of Hallertau Blanc this time so I went elsewhere online.

Perhaps we'll need to put our sensory prowess to the test and see if we can get some Hallertau Blanc hops locally to compare!
 

Ralphie0523

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Best case scenario: Someone messed up on labeling and reran the batch with the correct variety and alpha on the label.

Worst case scenario: Someone intentionally tried to deceive a client. Worse, some people may not double check and they definitely don’t get what they paid for.

I order 90+% of my hops from YVH, but I have had a LHBS resell YVH as theirs. Just stuck a label over the YVH. Stopped going there altogether when I saw it.

Good luck on inquiring with the business but their response will be interesting, a simple admission probably means an honest mistake. Gifts and other things may be to try and buy your silence.
 

day_trippr

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This has happened and noted on HBT before (although infrequently) and was simply the packager avoiding the waste of left-over pre-labeled bags from a run of a different strain...

Cheers!

[edit] To amplify: pellet packaging is highly automated including applying labels to a stack of bags on the way to being filled. When they run out of pellets for a strain there'll be a handful of bags in the track between the labeler and the filler, and they pick those up and put them back in the bag stack for the next run.

I'll note I was a bit skeptical as I expected the bags to come on a roll and get labeled, sliced and sealed on the fly, but...
 
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Ron C

Ron C

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This has happened and noted on HBT before (although infrequently) and was simply the packager avoiding the waste of left-over pre-labeled bags from a run of a different strain...

Cheers!

[edit] To amplify: pellet packaging is highly automated including applying labels to a stack of bags on the way to being filled. When they run out of pellets for a strain there'll be a handful of bags in the track between the labeler and the filler, and they pick those up and put them back in the bag stack for the next run.

I'll note I was a bit skeptical as I expected the bags to come on a roll and get labeled, sliced and sealed on the fly, but...
Got in touch with them today. the customer support rep basically echoed what you're saying here. They ran too many bags through the filler for one hop (Hersbrucker), took the extra empty bags and re-ran them through the filling process for the new hop(hallertau blanc), and they were relabelled in the process. He assured me that "the sticker on top is the correct one".

Ultimately I'm inclined to believe him. It would take almost no effort to remove the original sticker from the bag and slap on a new one if they were trying to be devious about it. Why risk it by keeping the original sticker on there?

Unless that's what they want me to think...........
 

Brettomomyces

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Got in touch with them today. the customer support rep basically echoed what you're saying here. They ran too many bags through the filler for one hop (Hersbrucker), took the extra empty bags and re-ran them through the filling process for the new hop(hallertau blanc), and they were relabelled in the process. He assured me that "the sticker on top is the correct one".

Ultimately I'm inclined to believe him. It would take almost no effort to remove the original sticker from the bag and slap on a new one if they were trying to be devious about it. Why risk it by keeping the original sticker on there?

Unless that's what they want me to think...........
I want to agree with this idea as well.

Identifying hersbrucker vs blanc shouldn't be too hard either based on aroma. The white grape/fruity notes that blanc showcase is a lot different than the floral qualities from hersbrucker.

Also, these two hops have very similar wholesale pricing depending on year of harvest and availability. Wouldn't be saving them that much to be honest.
 
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