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In 2014, we started going straight to farms to source our hops. Know why? We were tired of the Hop Sausage.
Hop sausage is what most breweries are buying. It’s the result of grinding up and mashing together cones of the same variety from different plots and farms before pelletizing them. Hops have a specific terroir that not only varies from farm to farm, but also plot to plot within the same farm. As with wine grapes, factors like sun and soil directly impact the essential qualities of the hops. We’ve analyzed hops from dozens of farms, and noted distinct differences in alpha acid levels (for bittering), and different oil contents, and levels of aromatic, volatile compounds (for that aroma and flavor). We went upstream, did the legwork, and selected only the best hop farmer partners.
Once you’ve tasted those prime cuts, you don’t want to go back to sausage. Specifically, the sausage presents a couple challenges: first, you can’t sample what you’re about to buy. The portion you sample comes from one plot of one farm. But that might be only 1/100 of what you’re about to purchase. There’s no way to proof your materials for quality!
Second, when you buy from vendors, you’re taking a risk. Since you can’t proof your materials, there’s a chance that the best cones have already been taken, and you’re basically getting the shake at the bottom of the bag. The schwag!
How about going straight to the farm instead? Walking the fields, picking the very best plots: the fattest cones, sitting on the most prime real estate, soaking up just the right amount of sun. We’re talking more of that precious oil per cone… less vegetation, more SALVATION. Terroir and quality are both factors here. These prime cuts are bursting with juice, and when you put them in your beer, you can taste the difference.
Starting in 2017, over half of our overall hop usage comes directly from farms. Check THE CRISP for example… we now source all of the Tettnanger hops in that bad boy straight from Hopfengut in Germany. You wanna talk about schwag… German brewers usually scoop up all the best German hops (the sort you use for Pilz) and leave Americans with the absolute dregs. Crack a CRISP, let that thing blast your nostrils and you’ll get what we’re talking about.