Death knell for Willamette hops

I received word from the Hop Growers of America Conference that ABI (Anhuesher-Busch InBev) is going to stop using whole hops in their product and start using extracts. Additionally, they are going to stop using Willamettes, something they have spent the last year and a half touting on billboards in our region. This could have some major ramifications for local growers (who are being paid not to grow the varietal) as there are some limitations on what can be grown here because of susceptibility to downy mildews (guess what, it’s wet here.)

At the risk of sounding jaded, I wonder how many other long standing traditions AB will change now that they kowtow to an even larger number of shareholders. Will they stop using clydesdales and start using goats to save on stable an feed costs? It’s unlikely they’ll change anything related to marketing, since that is all their beers are. I shouldn’t care if they use hop oil extracts and pellets if the beer is the same, but they have claimed the opposite for so long.

I’m going to predict the rise of Bravo hops. It’s a high yield, high alpha varietal that has good downy resistance. Sure, we’ve already got a lot of Nugget being grown here, but Bravo has a higher alpha potential and a higher yield. We’ll just have to see what restrictions have been placed on growers this year.

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