Proud to help lead the most technically proficient and reliable team in the hop industry. I’m passionate about agriculture, great beer, and the people it takes to make both a reality. Living out the Yakima Chief mission on a daily basis: “Connecting Family Farms with the World’s Finest Brewers”
Adam has been with The Country Malt Group for three years, bringing with him 25 + years of service/sales experience. Adam is also an avid homebrewer, perfecting his craft for the last two decades.
Helping people make great beer for over a decade. Skilled in Supply Chain Optimization, Commodity Management, Strategic Sourcing, Business Process Improvement, Contract Negotiation, Risk Mitigation, and Sales Management.
EPISODE 2: ALL ABOUT HOPS
TOBY TUCKER – SENIOR DIVISION MANAGER, COUNTRY MALT GROUP
VICTORIA PRITCHETT – DIRECTOR OF HOPS, NORTH AMERICA, COUNTRY MALT GROUP
SPENCER TIELKEMEIR – EAST DIVISION LEAD AND BREWING INNOVATIONS, YAKIMA CHIEF HOPS
ADAM HIERONYMUS – HOP CONTRACT SPECIALIST, COUNTRY MALT GROUP
- Victoria talks about hop selection, harvest and why you should contract your hops.
- Spencer talks about where the hop crops stands and what impacts COVID had.
- Adam talks about how he got into homebrewing and ultimately working in the brewing industry.
- One of our guests has a famous relative in the brewing industry – can you guess who it is?
Transcript - All Things Hops
EPISODE S.1, E.2
[ALL THINGS HOPS]
Toby Tucker: (00:16)
Welcome to this week’s episode of The Brew Deck. I’m your host for today’s episode, Toby Tucker. Really excited to have Victoria Pritchett on with us this week to talk hops. I know everybody’s excited about that, a change of pace. How you doing, Victoria?
Victoria Pritchett: (00:30)
I’m good. Thank you.
Toby Tucker: (00:31)
Victoria, have you ever heard of the term country strong?
Victoria Pritchett: (00:35)
Country strong, yes, I have. I [crosstalk 00:00:38] the Titans game.
Toby Tucker: (00:40)
Oh, yeah. Well, might have seen it recently.
Victoria Pritchett: (00:42)
[crosstalk 00:00:42] too.
Toby Tucker: (00:44)
No, country strong to me is like… it’s like, it’s not like Arnold Schwarzenegger strong or somebody that benches 400 pounds. It’s like guys and girls that you wouldn’t normally think that are super strong that come out and just kick your ass. Just, it’s like there’s two people that I don’t really want to mess with in a street fight. Number one is wrestlers. Their whole mantra and game plan is to take you down on the ground, and you’re screwed then, but the other is the country strong folks. They don’t look like they’re strong, but they will certainly put a whipping on you real quick. You know what? Brewers that walk up and down these steps every day to The Brew Deck, hauling 55-pound bags and pounds and pounds of hops and whatnot, it’s crazy. Those people are country strong for sure. I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with a brewer that spends so much time in the heat, on their feet, hauling hoses around. It’s crazy, like super strong.
Toby Tucker: (01:46)
You ever seen them scale up and down, specifically down The Brew Deck. They don’t even use their feet. It’s just kind of like they slide with their hands down about 12 steps. It’s crazy.
Victoria Pritchett: (01:57)
Don’t underestimate the brewer. Huh?
Toby Tucker: (01:59)
Gosh, I know, and I’m thankful every time I pour one for myself or have a beer, like you know, there’s a lot of work that goes into it.
Victoria Pritchett: (02:07)
Toby Tucker: (02:07)
Especially by brewers. Yep. Yeah, and for those listeners who have never had the opportunity to get real detailed and go back and see the process and how it’s done, it’s definitely some newfound thanks for sure. Yeah, going back to it, Victoria Pritchett is the Global Direct of Hops for Country Malt Group. That is the correct title. Right? Victoria, I know you’ve been a-
Victoria Pritchett: (02:31)
I am the Director of Hops for North America.
Toby Tucker: (02:35)
Just throw global in there. It sounds better. It’s all good. No, Victoria has really done a fantastic job for us, and to be honest, with everybody. I’ve told you this before, you coming on and joining our hop team has been a savior for sure. It’s a lot of work, and especially with how hops have shaped over the past five, ten years in the onset of the IPAs. It’s awesome to have somebody like yourself on our team, strictly organized and very much going to bat for it, and not only the brewers, but with our partnership of the YCH as well.
Toby Tucker: (03:11)
Enough of me talking. Victoria, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into your current position with Country Malt Group.
Victoria Pritchett: (03:17)
Well, yeah, I’ve been with Country Malt Group for over ten years. I started as a procurement manager on the homebrew side, and there was a need to manage hops as we continued to grow that portion of our business. I came in, it was kind of a one-man show when I started, and now there’s a full hops team managing all of the contracts and all of the needs of our brewers and supporting our staff internally.
Toby Tucker: (03:47)
Gosh, it’s like hundreds and hundreds. I know before you came on, we were trying to organize and manage these things independently as territory managers and just files and files of handwritten contracts. Yeah, a lot to manage.
Victoria Pritchett: (04:00)
Toby Tucker: (04:02)
For those that don’t know, tell the listeners a little bit about Country Malt Group’s partnership with Yakima Chief Hops and how that works.
Victoria Pritchett: (04:09)
Yeah. We are… exclusively they’re a North American distributor right now. We’ve been working with Yakima Chief Hops for nearly two decades now, and the partnership remains very strong today.
Toby Tucker: (04:25)
For those of the folks who don’t about Yakima Chief Hops, been around a long time, and really some quality products. Great partnerships with their growers, and really quality hops. It’s fantastic to have them on board. We’re talking about hop harvests, and typically we’re all in, 110% come August, September, etcetera, and have the opportunity to see a lot of it out there in Yakima specifically, but because of this thing called COVID, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but we’re obviously hands tied behind our backs here. Do you have a fond memory of hop harvests from previous years that you can talk about?
Victoria Pritchett: (05:04)
Many. I would say most… well, in general, I would say nothing beats bringing staff or someone to Yakima during harvest for the first time. Everyone’s just really blown away, specifically remember bringing the folks on my hops team there. I remember laying in the grass in the… if you’ve been to Perrault Farms, the field is just magnificent. Just laying there and drinking a fresh IPA. It really just brought meaning to the work that we do each day, like being able to see it all in action, just really tie it together.
Victoria Pritchett: (05:39)
Nothing beats the smell of Yakima during harvest. You’ve been there. You know. Every breath is like an IPA everywhere you go. Whether you like that or not, that’s a different conversation, but I know I do. It’s just fantastic.
Toby Tucker: (05:55)
Yeah, absolutely. I really enjoyed walking down where they’re doing their trials of some potential new harvest and new varieties and be able to do… pick off a cone and pull it apart and do the rub and sniff. It’s pretty cool. They do a fantastic job out there.
Victoria Pritchett: (06:13)
Oh, yes. No, that field is amazing. All the new experimental varieties where every plant is different. It’s like a kid in a candy store.
Toby Tucker: (06:23)
Yeah. What’s the watering hole out there that everybody goes to? There’s a couple of them.
Victoria Pritchett: (06:28)
Most notably, Sport’s Center.
Toby Tucker: (06:30)
Oh, yes, what it is.
Victoria Pritchett: (06:31)
What is Sport’s Center is the question? It is like a craft beer venue, it’s a karaoke place with pool halls, and it’s a diner. It’s kind of you would think it has an identity crisis, but yet it seems to have that in itself is its identity.
Toby Tucker: (06:48)
Victoria Pritchett: (06:51)
You can’t really say you’ve experienced Yakima during harvest without stepping into Sport’s Center.
Toby Tucker: (06:57)
Yeah. I would say you head out there sometimes in September; it’s 98% brewers, and, I tell you what, they throw back some beer for sure.
Victoria Pritchett: (07:07)
Oh, man. Yes, for sure.
Toby Tucker: (07:09)
I can’t wait to get back out there, and we try to send groups of customers and folks out there every year to what we call hops selection, which is obviously very important to us. It gives the customer the opportunity to get out there and see the farms and learn about how to rate and judge certain [inaudible 00:07:29], and really have a hand in picking what Country Malt Group has available contract years going forward. Yeah, maybe next year.
Victoria Pritchett: (07:37)
Toby Tucker: (07:40)
In the beer industry, how is it that hop contracts communicate acreage dedicated to planting by the growers. I know… unfortunately, I’ve been to NBAA meetings and other industry events where there are hop vendors out there encouraging folks not to contract. I think that is just the wrong message to send to folks. Tying back to the growers, what’s that tie between the two as far as contracting and what plant growers put in the ground.
Victoria Pritchett: (08:14)
To me, it’s kind of the basis of supply chain planning and management. We encourage customers to forward contract, to contract out into the future, so that we can communicate that demand. Those contracts represent demand. We can communicate that up the supply chain, so this allows growers to plan and plant appropriately; as we execute contracts or modify contracts, up or down, that allows the farmers to adjust their acreage accordingly as well, up or down. Really, what it boils down to is growers need to know what to grow and how much to grow. To take it a step further, there’s other parties in the supply chain that really does help for capacity planning, raw materials planning, and resources, etcetera. A lot of moving parts, but to get it to work properly, there has to be planning.
Toby Tucker: (09:09)
Yeah, absolutely. It’s not like a grower can throw in 40 acres of Citra, and it’s ready next year. I mean, it takes time for these plants to come to fruition-
Victoria Pritchett: (09:23)
Toby Tucker: (09:24)
… and a have a viable product.
Victoria Pritchett: (09:24)
Toby Tucker: (09:25)
Yeah. I think it’s absolutely important and certainly discourage those who are buying on spot to continue to do so. I mean, look at contracting. Obviously, you’re securing some supply going forward, especially if you’ve got some products or some staples in your lineup or portfolio of beers. It’s good to know that you have that, and you’re supporting the whole circle or the whole chain of the growers as well. You’ve got a lot of brewers that will say, “[inaudible 00:09:53] I’m not going to contract. I can find whatever I need on Lupulin Exchange or other avenues, especially in a time like now with the COVID.” A lot of people are either not brewing or brewing a lot less than they did and selling some stuff in avenues on spot like that. Why contract instead of buying them on spot?
Victoria Pritchett: (10:15)
That is the complicated question. Right? Let’s start here. First off, don’t think there’s anything wrong with picking up hops on spot market, whether that’s through a distributor or via the Lupulin Exchange. If you find yourself in need of something on the fly or to pick up things as needed, the issue really is that the availability may be scarce. I know recently some people felt that with the Citras and Mosaics, etcetera. Also, the pricing is unpredictable, which has also been seen this year. The one thing I really like to call out, though, is the quality. It may be low, or it may be inconsistent. Quality does depend on who grew and processed the hops. It really depends on how the seller who’s caring for these hops, now have they consistently been in cold storage?
Victoria Pritchett: (11:04)
I know right now our customers work with the Lupulin Exchange with CMG, and those hops are shipped straight from CMG, so the quality is more predictable. Going through the Lupulin Exchange, they get processed and cold-stored at YCH, they ship to us in refrigerated transport, and they go directly into CMG’s coolers. That definitely can ensure that quality is consistent.
Victoria Pritchett: (11:30)
The second portion of it is why contract? That was really addressing the spot portion of it, so why contract? It really is about what we just mentioned, a healthy, dependable supply chain. If brewers aren’t contracting, that demand isn’t being realized by farmers. Nobody knows, nobody knows you need this, and it may cause gaps in availability. Many people that have been in the industry for over a decade have experienced major shortages, and they’ve understood that. Some people realized shortages just by variety. You’ve just got to remember farmers will not grow hops just solely based on the hope that people will buy them. It’s all really guided by contracting.
Victoria Pritchett: (12:10)
There’s also the whole level of fiscal responsibility. Contracts do provide fiscal stability, not only to the grower, so that they can invest in their infrastructure and their breeding programs, but also, like brewers, it’s really about fiscal stability is very important for brewers.
Toby Tucker: (12:30)
Yeah. I’m really glad you mentioned the storage of hops as a part of overall quality assurance. When you buy on the secondary market, meaning hops being sold by other breweries who may have a surplus, you really never know for sure how that seller might have handled them. Did they keep them in the freezer or walk-in cooler at the appropriate temperature the whole time they had them in their possession, or did they run out of space, and now they’re just needing to sell them, and they’ve been sitting at room temperature. With buying on contract or on spot from a supplier like ourselves, you definitely have that certainty that the hops have been in cold storage, without interruption, really the entire time.
Victoria Pritchett: (13:09)
Definitely. My final thoughts on this topic really are just remember that maybe we are in what is deemed a plentiful spot market now, but what is short or in long supply today, it may change in the future years. It’s never historically been consistent. There’s never the same long or the same short variety year over year. You also don’t want to over-contract in fear that there’s going to be a shortage. That also creates problems with creating a market that’s in surplus.
Toby Tucker: (13:41)
Yeah, absolutely. Well, on the sales side, I know when we’re meeting with customers, we get a lot of questions about… well, number one, what is this contract about, how does it work, but specifically, how much should I book, how far out should I book, how much quantity, etcetera, based on what I’m producing? You get a lot of those questions. How do you manage and look at somebody’s production and talk to them about, hey, this is how far out we think you should contract and percentages and etcetera, etcetera?
Victoria Pritchett: (14:15)
I would say we encourage our customers to… I know both YCH and CMG encourage our customers to contract out three years. If you know what your needs are going to be further than that, great, but what we definitely recommend is the first year is a hundred percent. Right now, for the upcoming 20 crop, you should be a hundred percent contracted and know what you need.
Toby Tucker: (14:38)
Like a hundred percent of their expected usage, hop usage?
Victoria Pritchett: (14:41)
Toby Tucker: (14:41)
Victoria Pritchett: (14:42)
Yeah, that’s right. Then, the second year as the 75%. Then subsequent years would be 50%. We refer to this as like the step-down model, so it just-
Toby Tucker: (14:54)
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Makes a lot of sense. If I have a contract and then, I don’t know, two years from now realize that wow, I’m sitting on a lot of excess hops. Maybe that the staple beer that I thought was going to stick around for longevity just decreased in popularity, and my needs changed, but what happens then?
Victoria Pritchett: (15:14)
First and foremost, I always say these contracts are like living, breathing documents, ever-changing. People’s recipes change, the circumstances change, we understand that. The key is to be in communication with your supplier, whether that’s the hops’ person or the territory manager or whomever, and do a routine check-in. There’s a lot that we can do, especially with adequate notice. We can make variety swaps, reductions, or additions with adequate notice.
Victoria Pritchett: (15:44)
I know the key word here is adequate notice. It’s really challenging when the brewer comes to us, and it’s two years past when they realize that they’re in a long position. It’s harder to work with them. If we get ahead of it or making changes to the forward contracts today, that’s really going to balance out the situation. With CMG, and I know YCH as well, we are always willing to work with brewers who proactively address their contract or balancing needs. Always.
Toby Tucker: (16:12)
Yeah. It’s like communication is key. It’s like a healthy marriage. You know?
Victoria Pritchett: (16:19)
Toby Tucker: (16:19)
The more you communicate, the better you can accomplish what you need. Obviously, there’s the sexy hops out there. We’ve got people asking all the time, “Why can’t I get Galaxy or Nelson Sauvin?” Obviously, there’s limited supply, but tell me… I guess I’m asking for a lot of brewers here: why can’t everybody get these sexy hops that everyone is looking for?
Victoria Pritchett: (16:40)
Right now, CMG is no longer sourcing Galaxy. We simply, we don’t have access to it as a sustainable price, so we’d be buying it at market value and have to, obviously, make a profit there as well. It would just not be sustainable. We do hope to have it back in our portfolio someday, and like with the case of Nelson Sauvin, what people don’t understand is how little acreage is dedicated to Nelson Sauvin. I know like New Zealand acreage alone is… don’t quote me on this directly, but I know it’s smaller than some of the farms in the US. It’s unreal how small it is. The Nelson Sauvin demand that we get right now is about 40 to 50 times what we actually have access to each year. It’s insane.
Victoria Pritchett: (17:25)
Contrary to what people think, we’re not reserving these for large, big brand customers. That’s always the misconception. If anything, we’re doing it opposite. We’re trying to “spread the love” and give more people a bit of it and access it. It’s really handled on a first-come, first-serve basis. If we just open it up without any limitations, it would probably just get bought up by one individual, and that simply isn’t fair. The Citra and the Mosaics, more acreage is dedicated to that, so I don’t see that being inconsistent short supply. As we talked about earlier, what’s in short and long supply changes year over year.
Toby Tucker: (18:05)
Yep. I should mention, too, that Country Malt Group does have a really nice opportunity on the spot market as well. We’ve got some older crop stuff that is very, very usable and stored well. Certainly an opportunity to find something there. What experimental or new to market hop varieties should people be looking for or trying or watching as some of these develop?
Victoria Pritchett: (18:29)
I know HPC 492 is kind of a newer one out there. We do have access to supply. We got quite a bit this year as well. I know it’s used in stouts mostly, so the demand isn’t going to be as widespread as it is for IPA-type hops, but it’s a very nice hop with coconut, woody notes. It is a sister of Sabro, and Sabro’s been introduced in the market for a couple years now, which I think is an amazing hop. I think that one’s going to take off as more people access it. It’s just one of those; it still new to the market.
Victoria Pritchett: (19:02)
The one I do think that we really need to watch out for is the HPC 692, which is we’re getting lots of demand for it by breweries of all sizes and homebrewers, but supply is limited right now. We hope to access it more in the future, but I know one of its main qualities is its grapefruit floral notes. It’s a good IPA hop, so I see that one coming up as something that’s going to be in high demand.
Toby Tucker: (19:29)
That sounds fantastic. Tell me about your favorite beer style. Is there something specific you’ve been enjoying lately?
Victoria Pritchett: (19:36)
That is always a tricky question, and the trendy answer is whatever is in front of me, but that’s true. I enjoy all beer styles. I do always enjoy an IPA, especially if I’m in the mood for something stronger. Guess it’s to be had when I’m having a bad day or even a good day, a strong IPA.
Toby Tucker: (19:55)
Victoria Pritchett: (19:57)
Really, I’ve been really getting into the pilsners. They’re more challenging to make, and I just really appreciate the skill that goes into making a good, balanced pilsner, and it helps when you’re in the mood to have multiple beers because it’s a little bit lower in ABV.
Toby Tucker: (20:14)
Yeah, right? Where do you see… I mean, obviously, the IPA has been around a while, and it really… that beer style has contributed to where we are with hops. Where do you see that style going? Is it going away anytime soon?
Victoria Pritchett: (20:28)
I would say absolutely not. We may see in the US a shift with people getting into the lagers and pilsners and more crushable style beers, but you’ve got to realize, it’s just starting to take off globally, and there’s a lot of brewers globally right now that are keen to making these IPAs and are seeking the specific Northwest hops.
Toby Tucker: (20:58)
Yeah. I don’t think it’s going anywhere either. I think we’ll be drinking IPAs for the rest of our life, that’s for sure. I don’t mind.
Victoria Pritchett: (20:59)
Yeah. It’s become like the basic go-to. The basic go-to used to be have a Budweiser in your fridge, and now it’s just like, I just always have some IPAs in the fridge.
Toby Tucker: (21:07)
Yeah. A little something of everything.
Victoria Pritchett: (21:09)
Toby Tucker: (21:10)
Being in this industry is not a bad thing when you want to grab some customers’ beers to have in the fridge. It’s great. It’s funny: I find myself the neighborhood person that people want to know, not because I’m a nice guy or just people want to hang out. They just want to see what’s in my beer fridge because it’s a nice selection. I’m sure you guys get the same thing, you and Tyler.
Victoria Pritchett: (21:29)
Oh, absolutely. We have multiple beers on tap and a fridge full of beer at all times.
Toby Tucker: (21:36)
Well, Victoria, it’s been awesome. I really appreciate you coming on, and, as discussed earlier, you do a fantastic job with our team and really take care of the customers, you, and your team. Hops is one of those, it’s fun to be in, but it’s challenging as well. There’s a lot of moving parts there, and we obviously thank you for your work you do for our team.
Victoria Pritchett: (21:55)
Toby Tucker: (21:57)
Also, appreciate you coming on.
Victoria Pritchett: (21:58)
All right, thank you.
Toby Tucker: (22:00)
Yeah, no problem. All right. Well, cool. We will touch base later, Victoria. I appreciate your time and make it a great rest of the week.
Victoria Pritchett: (22:07)
Thanks for having me.
Toby Tucker: (22:10)
All right. Thanks again. All right, so we’ve talked a lot about hops today. This guest has decided to join us, and really happy to have him on board to talk a little bit more about hops. Welcome, Spencer. Spencer Tielkemeier is the East Division Lead with Yakima Chief Hops, and also, you’re involved in the brewing innovation side as well?
Spencer Tielkemeier: (22:30)
Yeah. I do about half and half, actually. I spend half my time working on the sales side in Eastern North America and then half of my time on brewing innovations projects and stuff like that. Yeah, it’s a little bit of a split role, and it’s worked for us so far. Don’t forget, among those things, I’m also a former customer of yours, former malt customer.
Toby Tucker: (22:47)
That’s right. I think we met down at the Oasis, I believe, down in Austin… or maybe earlier than that.
Spencer Tielkemeier: (22:53)
Probably even earlier than that, yeah, but a former brewer from the Austin area. Yeah, so long history with working with CMG.
Toby Tucker: (23:01)
A wealth of knowledge of that for sure. That is for sure. Most of the listeners probably know of our, kind of a partnership, if you will, but we’ve been assisting each other with getting some fantastic quality hops out to the market for a long, long time. Spencer, I really appreciate you jumping on. It’s good timing today that we’re talking about hops on the episode. I thought it would be great for listeners to catch with somebody that’s right there, fingertips, if you will, on the pulse of what’s going out there, specifically in the Northwest, but how much additional acreage planning to harvest this year overall, as opposed to what was in the ground last year this time?
Spencer Tielkemeier: (23:40)
We took some relatively decisive action, and some of it was extending contract deadlines, and some of it was just related to acreage in general and what we felt like we needed to do to accommodate where the industry was going to be as it returned from the pandemic, so we essentially adjusted our acreage downward in a lot of cases, static in some cases, to accommodate for that. All in all, I would say our acreage went slightly down this year, US acreage as a whole went slightly up, and the balance will hopefully sort itself out somewhere in the middle where we have a balanced supply chain, which is what we’re obviously striving for on the year-to-year basis [crosstalk 00:24:16].
Toby Tucker: (24:16)
Cool. How’s the crop looking this year, and what weather and climate variables have factored into where we’re at or where you all are at? Then, maybe how Yakima Valley is a natural protection of these hops from a lot of the weather patterns that some of the inexperienced folks that have not had the opportunity to visit Yakima, so tell us a little bit about that.
Spencer Tielkemeier: (24:36)
Yeah. As you know, Toby, it’s a high desert environment. It’s not like Washington… like you imagine if you’ve only been to Seattle. It’s not green and mossy. It’s brown and very arid, but what it means is that there’s low disease pressure because there’s low moisture. There’s almost 350-something days of sun every year, so very little rainfall, and because the Yakima River runs through the valley and there’s a vast network of ditches that were dug throughout the valley in the early 1900s, irrigation is not an issue in most years as long as adequate snowpack is available in the Cascades because the Cascades snow melt funnels down into the Yakima River and provides irrigation water.
Spencer Tielkemeier: (25:12)
Really ideal environment in a lot of ways. It differs from other places, such as Germany, where crops are not irrigated, most hop crops are not irrigated. Some are, but much less than in the US. In terms of yields this year and just overall weather conditions, we had a good year. Snowpack in the Cascades was good, more than adequate. We had favorable weather. A little bit cool at the beginning, so things were a little slow to get really going, but we had good heat in the past month to [inaudible 00:25:37] get up to the wire and pushing out good yields. Overall quality looks really high, experimental acreage looks really good, so just potentially some lower spot availability on some varieties if we do yield slightly soft, which is just a good reminder, and one thing that I will leave the group with, I think everyone always expects Cascade and Centennial and those other hops to just be out there on the spot market as they have been in the past few years, but we just always are striving to meet brewer need. If contracts show that brewers need less, we’re going to plant less. Then, if we go down to a certain point where’s there’s not enough spot availability, we may end up short again if the market really is not showing on contract what really is the true demand.
Spencer Tielkemeier: (26:12)
I would just encourage brewers to make sure that they do their best to try to contract responsibly on all varieties, particularly on some of the older ones where we don’t see as much higher contracting rate these days. Overall, I think we have a lot to be really optimistic about. It’s been a high-quality year so far.
Toby Tucker: (26:27)
That’s fantastic. In my last conversation with Victoria Pritchett on our end, we had a couple minute conversation about the importance of contracting, and again, coming from you as extremely important. Throwing a number out there you may not be prepared for, but what percentage of North American hops come from Yakima Valley? Do you know off the top of your head?
Spencer Tielkemeier: (26:45)
I’d have to check the IHDC report or the USDA report, but my guess would be something around 70%-80%, somewhere in there.
Toby Tucker: (26:52)
Spencer Tielkemeier: (26:52)
It’s a lot.
Toby Tucker: (26:53)
Spencer Tielkemeier: (26:54)
It’s a lot, and it might not be quite that high. I mean, so Idaho just surpassed Oregon two years ago as the second-largest state in the country. Idaho acreage has grown quite a lot, and it’s not to say that Oregon acreage is diminishing. It’s actually growing as well. Idaho has just come on really, really strong. There’s a lot of available land out there. Yeah, I would say something like 70%. I think it’s about… yeah, I’d have to look it up.
Toby Tucker: (27:16)
Spencer Tielkemeier: (27:16)
It’s about… anyway, yeah, so 60%-70%, 80% potentially.
Toby Tucker: (27:21)
Spencer Tielkemeier: (27:22)
It’s a lot.
Toby Tucker: (27:22)
It’s a lot. Yeah, absolutely.
Spencer Tielkemeier: (27:23)
It’s a lot, yeah. For sure.
Toby Tucker: (27:25)
Last, but not least, while I’ve got you. Anything new and juicy to talk about coming from YCH? I know there’s always a lot of experimentals you guys have on vine out there when I visit. Anything that you’re super excited about we should be looking out for?
Spencer Tielkemeier: (27:40)
Yeah. I would point out, I guess, two things in specific that I’m pretty jazzed about on the brewing innovation side. We have a number of products and blends and things that we’re working on, but from a single varietal perspective, most people probably have seen the variety known as Talus, which was previously known as HBC 692. It’s been one of our elite lines for a number of years now, very strong hop, daughter of Sabro. Just got a name, Talus, so it’s officially released for commercial cultivation now beyond just the three main farms that do the experimentals. Very compelling hop for brewers for several reasons. From a raw hop perspective, it brews like it smells, has this incredibly punchy ruby red grapefruit, like scratch your thumbnail on a grapefruit skin kid of aroma, and it translates extremely well to beer. It’s a hop that just, I think, performs in a very straightforward way and in a very bold way. In some ways, I would compare it to like an extremely supercharged Centennial, Centennial Plus maybe. It’s a very compelling hop.
Spencer Tielkemeier: (28:34)
That one is going to be available for commercial use this year, and I would say I expect big things from that. Then, also, we have in the past three years taken the variety Idaho 7, which has been around for three or four… well, more than that. Maybe up to 10 years at this point. It’s grown by Nate Jackson in Idaho, and we have a really good relationship with Nate. He asked us to take it into the YCR quality management program, which is the same quality management program that umbrellas over Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic, and others.
Spencer Tielkemeier: (29:06)
What that means for that variety is that we have it grown in multiple farms, multiple states now, and that the quality management program behind it is the best in the world in my opinion, so I think for those that have used that variety in the past and never found a home for it, or maybe you’ve never used Idaho 7, I would say give it another look. I think it’s one of the variety’s that I’m most bullish on for the future. It’s just packed with survivables. It sits way at the top end of that chart in terms of things in a hop that makes it into your beer, excellent Whirlpool hop, excellent active firm, dry hop, excellent dry hop. Just a very versatile hop. I would point you to those two things in specific as things that I think are going to drive beer flavor in the next few years.
Toby Tucker: (29:46)
That’s awesome. Great, great news. Hey, Spencer, I always enjoy chatting with you. It really affirms how much I don’t know about hops and, yeah. I mean, I look forward to seeing you again when all this passes. If somebody wants to know about some of these new hops, certainly reach out to your CMG rep or your YCH rep for that matter, and certainly to… open to giving you some more information on it, but Spencer, I do appreciate your time. If the listeners hang on, we’ve got another episode of The Whirlpool coming up. I’m going to go grab a quick beverage, and we’ll jump in. I’ve got a special guest for everybody, but Spencer, thanks so much, buddy, and enjoy the rest of your day and upcoming weekend. Look forward to seeing you.
Spencer Tielkemeier: (30:25)
Great to hear from you, Toby, and happy harvest.
Toby Tucker: (30:27)
All right, man. Thanks for joining. From up here on The Brew Deck, we look forward to having you join us on the next episode. Stay tuned. We’ll get in the whirlpool in just a minute.
Speaker 5: (30:44)
Representing 45 brands and over 300 malt and grain products, Country Malt Group has a variety of malts for your craft. See the full lineup by visiting Shop.CountryMalt.com.
Toby Tucker: (31:15)
All right. Now’s for my favorite time of the day. We talked business and now get to jump in the old whirlpool where it’s hot and steamy, and I’m a bit stove up today anyways, so let’s jump on in. I’m here with my buddy, Adam. Adam, do you know what stove up means?
Adam Hieronymus: (31:37)
I do not.
Toby Tucker: (31:37)
It must be a southern term, really. It means you’re hurt, kind of sore, hurt, and I think… actually, I think it comes from… it’s like the past tense of stave, like the stave on the outside of a barrel, but really, they’re talking about the stave of a ship when a hole is blasted in the side of an old, wooden ship.
Adam Hieronymus: (31:57)
Toby Tucker: (31:57)
Down here in the south, we call it stove up; we’re just sore, so a good time to hop in the old whirlpool. Again, Adam, thanks for joining. Adam Hieronymus is here with us today. He is a hops specialist with CMG. Very knowledgeable about hops. Deals with not only customers regarding contracts, but spot purchases and just a general wealth of knowledge, specifically on hops and what we have available to offer. I think you do a lot of home brewing as well. Right?
Adam Hieronymus: (32:26)
Yes. I first started homebrewing back in 2000, so I’ve now been doing it probably now; I guess that’s 20 years now that I’ve been home brewing, which has been a great thing to experience.
Toby Tucker: (32:37)
Awesome. Well, I appreciate it… we talked a little bit about you on the tail end of vacation, if you will, so I appreciate you joining us. Where’d you go? Anything exciting?
Adam Hieronymus: (32:46)
Yeah. Well, I’m here in Vancouver, Washington, so I’m right here in the Columbia River. Because of all this COVID stuff going on, we didn’t really want to go too far, but we wanted to get away, so we just went down towards Stevenson, Washington, which is down towards the river. We found a house that’s right there on the lake, or on the river, I should say, and so it had a little cove. We were able to sit out with some friends, do some hiking in the area, and then just sit in the water and enjoy it.
Toby Tucker: (33:12)
Man, sounds good. It’s almost [crosstalk 00:33:16]
Adam Hieronymus: (33:15)
It was only an hour away, too, which made it nice.
Toby Tucker: (33:18)
Yeah. Down here, it’s almost too hot to go outside. Yesterday it was 89% humidity, so you walk outside, and you’re melting away. That sounds great. Man.
Adam Hieronymus: (33:27)
Yeah. I’ve lived in Green Bay, Wisconsin for a few years, and I couldn’t stand the humidity where it’d be a hundred degrees outside and a hundred percent humidity.
Toby Tucker: (33:36)
Adam Hieronymus: (33:37)
Yeah, [crosstalk 00:33:38]
Toby Tucker: (33:40)
Yeah. All right, well, cool. Tell me about, is there any relation at all with Stan Hieronymus, the author, the well-known author in several publications around beer, hops, etcetera?
Adam Hieronymus: (33:50)
Yeah. There is a relationship. I have not met Stan yet, but what it is, is my grandfather was one of 12 kids in his family, and our family is from the southern part of Kentucky. Of the 12 brothers, my dad is cousins with Stan, so that makes him my… I think my second cousin once removed, I think, is what it’s called. You’d have to go into those books to figure those things out, but I had never met him yet. I have met family members of his that are in the Kentucky area.
Toby Tucker: (34:20)
Yeah, that’s interesting. I think the only… well, he had several publications, but For the Love of Hops was one of them. Right?
Adam Hieronymus: (34:27)
Yeah. I own that book as well. It was kind of funny is when I first got it, I was like [inaudible 00:34:32] Stan, and so then I had to do some research. I asked my dad some questions, and he reached out to some of other people. That’s how I figured out who he is related to and everything like that, so it was kind of funny to see that. I carry that book around with me just in case I ever meet him so that I can get it signed by him as well.
Toby Tucker: (34:47)
Yeah. That’s cool. I really don’t think I have any authors in my family. I mean, I’m not the greatest of penmanships, if you will. It’d be surprising [inaudible 00:34:56] any authors. Let’s go back to talking about hops. Tell me about on the Country Malt Group side, how you joined our team and what got you into this industry.
Adam Hieronymus: (35:05)
It was three years ago, in June, that I got hired by Country Malt Group. I was in a position with my old company, wasn’t in the industry at all where I just was not happy or anything like that, and I’d been in, like I said before, I’d been a homebrewer for a while, so I knew about brew craft and everything, which was our homebrew division of Country Malt Group. A position I saw opened up, and I reached out and then had an interview with Victoria Pritchett. From there, it’s just been the greatest experience I’ve ever had, so it’s been just a blast to be able to work in this industry.
Toby Tucker: (35:38)
Yep. I would agree. It’s a good place to work for sure, and we did have a conversation with Victoria. It was great to talk to her, and she’s obviously got a great team around her. Let’s talk about some varieties of hops, more of the non-well-known varieties that some brewers or some folks may overlook. I mean, there’s always the sexy hops, sexy varieties everyone’s looking for, but I think a lot of times there are some kind of lesser-known varieties out there that can really result in some fantastic aromas and flavors. What are some of those on your list that you think people overlook?
Adam Hieronymus: (36:11)
Two of them that comes to mind that I really enjoy using myself is one of them is the Ahtanum, and the other one is Loral. Ahtanum, I’ve heard people call it the super Cascade hop, and what’s kind of nice about it, it’s like Cascade. The super part is that it’s got the citrusy and grapefruit flavor more powerful than Cascade, but it has less of the alpha, so you’re getting more of just the flavor and everything out of it. I feel it works great with other hops like Citra or Mosaic or Simcoe, where it helps enhance those flavors that are in it.
Adam Hieronymus: (36:43)
That’s kind of the same thing with Loral. It’s another one where on its own, it’s good, but when you blend it with Citra, again, it’s a great example, the lemon flavors from the Loral help enhance the characteristics of Citra.
Toby Tucker: (36:57)
Yeah. That’s kind of whatever to my end, too. That’s great. IPA, obviously, it’s one of those styles that is unbelievably strong and is really not going anywhere, but then you have the onset and the popularity of the hazy, the cloudy, the milkshake IPAs. What are some suggestions you have or some varieties that brewers should take a look at specifically for some of the hazies or kind of the milkshake IPAs that they’re doing?
Adam Hieronymus: (37:29)
Some of the newer hops that are coming out right now that I really am liking, one of them is Azacca, it’s got that tropical fruit flavor, papaya, that you’re really going to get when you use again, the dry hop. Again, with all these hazy IPAs, the biggest part is to use almost all your hops in the dry hop part of it because that’s where you’re going to get your flavors and aromas from it. Other ones, like Cashmere, is another one that’s really nice and smooth, but it’s got a nice lemon flavor to it that really helps. Again, if you blend it with other hops, it can help balance out everything really nicely. The other thing with Cashmere is it’s got a nice, mellow tongue flavor that you get a nice mouthfeel from it, too. Other ones, like Idaho 7, Eldorado have both been around for a little bit, but they’re now started to take up a little bit more, which has been really good with them.
Toby Tucker: (38:15)
What about American Noble Hops? Tell me about… there’s been some chatter about it, and I’ve seen some stuff online. I’ve got a little bit of experience with it on the sales side, but I think it’s kind of a group of items, if you will, that not a lot of people are familiar with. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Adam Hieronymus: (38:32)
Yeah. We’ll take the two simple ones, Citra and Mosaic. It’s taking those hops, but it’s getting rid of the alpha in it. Their alpha is only like, on average, Mosaic and Citra are usually around 12% alpha, so you get that bitterness really from them, but with the American Noble ones of it, it’s like two or three percent. It’s really no bitterness at all, so you’re just getting the aroma and flavor. When I played with them and kind of experimented with them, I’ve used them in lagers or in pilsners where it’s like I want that classic pilsner flavor of dryness and smoothness and bubbles. Using these, you can get that nice citrus, tropical fruit flavor from it, too.
Toby Tucker: (39:11)
Do American Noble-style hops come from the cryo process?
Adam Hieronymus: (39:16)
Yes. It is part of the cryo process, so that’s the other thing that’s nice. It’s taking the cryo form, too, but then it’s just the lesser parts of it that aren’t used as much.
Toby Tucker: (39:25)
I gotcha. Okay, makes sense now. You said you have been brewing with some of these American Nobles at home, with some pilsners, lagers, etcetera?
Adam Hieronymus: (39:37)
Yeah. I’ve used it, like when I first tried it, I did it in pale ale at first. It turned out pretty good, but the malts in the pale ale kind of hid the aromas from the hops and everything, so I did a pilsner, and I put some Mosaic American Noble in it. I got that bubble gum flavor, which was pretty cool to get, but then it was that smoothness of a pilsner malt base, which was kind of nice to see.
Toby Tucker: (40:05)
Wow, man. That sounds fun. Getting thirsty. Is there any hops that you dislike?
Adam Hieronymus: (40:10)
That’s a good question. Not right off. That’s [crosstalk 00:40:14]
Toby Tucker: (40:13)
The reason I ask is because everybody’s senses are different, so some people may love a certain variety, some people may dislike it. I mean, I know there’s some varieties that people say smell like cat pee. There’s some varieties that people pick up wild onions. For me, and it sounds very weird, the popular hop, Mosaic, the first time I had it in a beer, it was a very unripe garlic or like heavy garlic to me, and a lot of people don’t get that. I guess it’s all up to the individual.
Adam Hieronymus: (40:47)
Now that we’re talking about it, one that I just… it doesn’t really do anything for me, and it’s kind of crazy, is Nelson Sauvin. It’s not something I… I mean, I like it because I know what it’s about and everything, but it’s not something I will go to, and I don’t know why. It’s just something flavor-wise that I’m just really caring for it. I don’t know if it’s the wine part of it that I’m not sure of, but-
Toby Tucker: (41:06)
Yep. Well, I’m sure there’s people out there would be happy that you passed up on it, so it’s more for them potentially.
Adam Hieronymus: (41:11)
Yep. That’s probably what would happen.
Toby Tucker: (41:14)
In your day to day at Country Malt Group with the hop department, what’s the most common question you get from folks calling in?
Adam Hieronymus: (41:23)
How are the European hops doing? Like about, I would say back in May because that’s when a lot of the European hops are starting to come in for us to provide to our customers; they’re asking, “We’ve heard weird things about the harvest and stuff. What’s going on with it.” Those are some questions we get. The other ones are, “What new hops can I get my hands on?” are the other questions I get a lot of.
Toby Tucker: (41:45)
You’ve been out of Yakima. Right?
Adam Hieronymus: (41:48)
Toby Tucker: (41:48)
I had the experience of getting out there and doing some selections, specifically for Country Malt Group. What was some of your most notable takeaways in your experiences out there?
Adam Hieronymus: (41:57)
One of them is just the size of the hop fields themselves was one of the things that was amazing to see. It’s just how big they are and everything like that. One thing that was cool as that selection or group was testing Simcoe, and it was really interesting to see that we tested it, and we chose which, out of the three, which one we liked first, second or third. What was interesting to see was all three of those Simcoes were from different states. One was from Washington, one was from Idaho, and one was from Oregon. They’re not that far away, but you could tell a difference in all three. That was something that was kind of crazy to see and was really interesting, that I really enjoyed.
Toby Tucker: (42:37)
Yeah. That was the first thing I thought of, too, when I asked the question is the times I’ve been out, it’s a [inaudible 00:42:42] really. You can have five different lots of the same variety, all in different farms, that may be a half-mile apart. You can really have a distinguishable difference in aroma between just areas that particular variety was grown.
Adam Hieronymus: (43:01)
It was crazy. The quality of them was great; there was just no real bad flaws on them, but it was just, there was differences which you could pick up on, which was kind of interesting that you could see.
Toby Tucker: (43:10)
Yeah. Victoria and I talked a little bit about the importance of contracting.
Adam Hieronymus: (43:15)
Toby Tucker: (43:16)
You being involved in a deep dive in contracting every day, what would you say to the people listening as far as your take on why contracting is so important?
Adam Hieronymus: (43:29)
The two things I always tell customers about contracting because I feel it is very important, is that: one, if you contract it, you know you’re going to have it, you know you’re going to have your Citra. You’re not going to have to worry about having to find it on the market. The other thing is you’ve got a set price then, too. You’ve already got the price set in; there’s not going to be any changes with it, so you’ve got the product and the price, and then you’re set to brew what you need to do for that year.
Toby Tucker: (43:54)
On top of that, too, is you’re giving the grower an opportunity to put their thoughts together and figure out what they’re going to put in the ground. A big plus contracting, as far as Country Malt Group is concerned, is our distribution center; we have cold storage in every distribution site, so we will house those contracted hops at that facility where you order other products, such as malt, grains, etcetera, and be able to order those at will and pull them right out of the storage conditions that are definitely consistent.
Toby Tucker: (44:26)
What are some of your favorite styles of beer? What are you drinking?
Adam Hieronymus: (44:30)
Because it is so hot right now, I’m really liking the lagers, American lagers, and some Kolsch’s right now. I’m really enjoying those that have been pretty good. There’s a few breweries in this area, hitting some really good ones, and I’m really enjoying them right now.
Toby Tucker: (44:43)
What would some of those be? Give them a plug.
Adam Hieronymus: (44:45)
5440s Kolsch is a really good one that I’m really enjoying, and then Loowit Brewing has the one that’s called Loowit Lager. What’s kind of cool about it is, you’re from the area [inaudible 00:44:56]. Your number is Lucky Brewing, back in the days, it looks like the old Lucky Brewing can, but it’s got Mount St Helens in the background. It’s kind of cool. Then the Indian term for Mount St. Helens is Loowit. It’s kind of something that goes hand-in-hand in this area.
Toby Tucker: (45:13)
I spend a lot of time Loowit in meetings up there in [inaudible 00:45:16], great place.
Adam Hieronymus: (45:17)
Toby Tucker: (45:17)
Well, Adam, I appreciate it. I know you’re on the tail end of PTO and want you to be able to take advantage of that, but I do appreciate your time jumping in The Whirlpool with me. It’s a great way to end a Friday.
Adam Hieronymus: (45:27)
Oh, yes. Thank you. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Toby Tucker: (45:30)
No problem. I look forward to chatting with you pretty soon, and for those of you listening that want some more information on hops, as far as Country Malt Group is concerned, reach out to your territory manager. Adam is also available. Like I said, he’s a wealth of knowledge and is very interested in all things hops, so connect with us. We’ll answer any questions you have and love to work with you. Adam, I appreciate it, and have a great rest of the weekend.
Adam Hieronymus: (45:55)
Hey, thank you, Toby.
Toby Tucker: (45:56)
Well, all this talk about hops today has got me a bit parched, and honestly, my fingers are getting a bit pruned, if you will, from being in this hot water in The Whirlpool, so I think it’s about time to get out and go find me a nice IPA. Anyhoo, thanks to Country Malt Group for powering The Whirlpool, as always, keeping the jets going and the bubbles; it’s always nice. We look forward to seeing everybody on the next Whirlpool session; please join us. Again, I’m your host, Toby Tucker. Have a good one. Cheers.