COPENHAGEN — Just as grapes are not just grapes, hops are not just hops. The Danish microbrewery Mikkeller proves this with a new series of beers exploring the terroir of hop varieties. The hope is that it will contribute to the education of brewers and improve the overall quality of hops in the industry, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, CEO and founder of Mikkeller explains.
‘’In the same way that people in the wine world talk about terroir – that is to say the effects that geography and climate have on grapes and wine – we can also talk about the terroir of hops and beer. A hop variety can taste markedly different depending on the country in which it’s grown and the processes involved in its production’’, he says.
This idea led to the development of nine different beers with nine varieties of hops from various locations in the world.
Pure and consistent beer
Mikkel Borg Bjergsø set up the project with his close partner Dirk Naudts from the Belgian brewery De Proefbrouwerij. The brewery brews a large part of Mikkeller’s beer, and its Research and Development Department has been conducting research in hops over a long period of time in order to produce the purest and most consistent beer possible.
The Hop Terroir project is a continuation of the Single Hop Technology project, which began in 2010 and among other things resulted in Mikkeller’s Single Hop series. The single hop IPAs provided it’s drinkers with a unique opportunity to taste the different hop varieties as isolated flavors.
On top of being a fun and interesting experiment for Mikkeller and De Proefbrouwerij, Terroir is a somewhat controversial project for the brewing industry because it shines a light on which hop producers make the best hops. Hopefully it will translate to raising the overall quality of hops in the long term’’, says Bjergsø.
‘’The way things are now, there isn’t any real oversight on overall hop quality. If we order a shipment of Amarillo hops, we get a bunch of bags delivered from the USA and we have to simply trust that we’re getting what we paid for, but in fact it could be coming from anywhere’’, he says.
‘’Hopefully, Terroir will help put more emphasis on honesty and straightforwardness from the producers’ end because the brewers will be able to taste how big a difference there can be between hop varieties depending on where they’re grown, which could lead them to be more critical about where they source their ingredients from.’’
The Mikkeller Hop Terroir beers
Hop variety: Amarillo/Cascade
- IPA – Terroir Series Amarillo Idaho
- IPA – Terroir Series Amarillo Washinghton State
- IPA – Terroir Series Cascade Australia
- IPA – Terroir Series Cascade Germany
- IPA – Terroir Series Cascade Washington State
Hop variety: Centennial/Sorachi Ace
- IPA – Terroir Series Centennial Washington State
- IPA – Terroir Series Centennial Belgium
- IPA – Terroir Series Sorachi Ace Belgium
- IPA – Terroir Series Sorachi Ace Northwest US
Terroir – the term
Comes from the word terre, which means earth or ground. Originally a French term used in the context of wine, coffee and tea which describes the impact that the geography, geology and climate of various locations can have on the finished product. Farming areas in the same regions share soil, climatic conditions and farming techniques which all contribute to the products’ unique qualities. The same wine grape can grow in different regions and thereby have substantially different effects on the wine.
Terroir in connection to beer refers to the special characteristics of a region for the cultivation of hops, comprising growing conditions (such as soil composition, nitrogen, moisture) and climatologic conditions as well as biotic variables (such as microorganisms, managing practices). Terroir may have a significant influence on regional hop properties including aroma, flavor, bitter substances and longevity, affecting the brewing values of the cultivated hops. Therefore, brewers must rely on desired hop varieties from the same terroir in order to achieve consistent hoppy aromas in their beers.
– Ann Van Holle, Head of Research and Development, De Proefbrouwerij, Belgium.
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- Mikkeller Press Area: http://press.mikkeller.dk
- Shop the Terroir series: https://shop.mikkeller.dk/products/terroir-series-bundle