The Story Of The Amarillo Hops

The Humulus Lupulus, or as we know it, hops, are the flowing cone of a perennial vining plant. Like the grapes that provide us with wine, the hops plant requires an area that has a moist spring, followed by a long, dry summer. The type and taste of the final bloom is exclusively dependent on the conditions in which the vine grows. Every part of the terroir, the soil, the weather, the grower’s care dictates the final outcome.

One such place is the Yakima Valley, residing in Washington state, the area of the States that produces nearly 75 percent of the country’s hops. In this area, family’s farm takes up around 200 acres. A modest size in comparison to many of their counterparts. However, the hop named ‘VGXP01 c.v.’ and later trademarked as the ‘Amarillo’, would quickly put this farm onto the beer map. As the story goes, Darren, supervisor at the farm, was out in the fields one day and came across a vine growing wild. He instinctively knew it looked different and took it into his hands and smelled the cones, leading to one of the most interesting discoveries in recent times.

The Amarillo hops are part of the aromatic category, which means it is added to the sweet mixture of malt and water in the last few minutes of boiling in order to bitter because of its low cohumulone content.

While many North American hops are known for the citrus flavourings, Amarillo has been noted to hold an orange like quality. Due to its high content of myrcene, an essential oil shared with a number of plants including, ylang-ylang, wild thyme, parsley and cannabis, to name a few. As with its counterparts it can give off a pungent smell and taste, but once used, it can actually lend a sweetness as a result of the intensely fruity character.

This hop is truly one of a kind and as such, it is produced in small numbers. One must be grateful when they have the chance to not only brew with it, but taste a beer containing it. It’s important to support such diverse strains of plants to avoid them from disappearing, leaving us with only a handful of homogenous options.

Available in our 822 Double IPA

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Key Words
perennial – from Latin per, meaning “through”, and annus, meaning “year”
cohumulone (R=isobutyryl): considered to add a harsh, unpleasant bitterness to beer, so low levels are better for the brewing purposes.