Introducing the YCH Aged Hops Program
The concept of using Aged Hops is a tradition as old as brewing itself. As the industry becomes more competitive than ever, we recognize the brewers that are embracing tradition as a way to stand out. We seek to support these efforts by forming our Aged Hops program, combining age old tradition with thoughtful innovation. Through this unique program, we offer low-alpha hops and blends that have been intentionally selected to participate in our custom-designed aging process.
This program is the brainchild of passionate hop industry veterans like Chad Roberts, YCH’s Master Planner, who has been collaborating with brewers for years to discover the unique needs of wild ale brewers. With the help of our robust Quality Control and Sensory teams, we work to create a validated product that brewers can use with surety.
From Passion Project to Program
The original idea behind our Aged Hops program stemmed from the belief that there is a home for every quality hop, new or old. Chad Roberts reflects on how it all started.
“Back in 2015, I was the Quality Coordinator at YCH. As such I was asked to weigh in on the viability of some excess previous crop German Select whole cone material. It was pretty mild and inoffensive to the nose, but the decision was made to dispose of the bales due to the degraded Alpha content. I suggested that I might have someone who would take them off our hands, and immediately reached out to Trevor at de Garde Brewing in Tillamook, OR. He graciously picked up the bales, and I had the beginnings of a thing on my hands. A small thing, but a thing nonetheless.”
“I was tasked with reviewing all of our previous crop inventory and determining the best use for it. Anything under a certain Alpha threshold was deemed not extractable, so I proposed an alternative route for the volumes I found appropriate for aging. I was given the opportunity to put together a grassroots/word of mouth program and granted a bit of dry storage to test out aging pellets in ambient temperatures. Any time an older volume was tested and found to be oxidized beyond traditional sales viability, I evaluated it and admitted appropriate varieties into the program.”
“From there I worked closely with brewers seeking aged hops, which helped me to determine the general specifications for this product and allowed me to refine the program to meet brewers’ needs. We made big sales, little sales and slowly ate away at the initial volumes we had, proving aged hops would be a valuable asset to our product portfolio. I got the approval to invest in “aging chambers” and have them retrofitted to expedite the aging process. We packed all three and waited about a year and a half, monitoring them for quality over time. Then our special Aged Hops team, nicknamed the Skunkwerks, got together in their work togs and headed down to sample everything. Our lab and sensory analysis showed us that just about every last pound was below 1% AA and ready to work. Our first official Aged Hops bales were repackaged and ready to market.”
After years of development behind the scenes alongside some of the best wild ale brewers in the world, we are excited to officially introduce our Aged Hops program to the brewing community. We not only hope to supply this niche industry with a reliable ingredient, but we hope to inspire more brewers to try their hand at this traditional brewing style that honors a piece of brewing history.
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