Come and celebrate the mighty hop!08 Aug 2016
If a thirsty alien landed in modern London, he’d soon wonder what exactly IPA stood for. You can’t miss that particular abbreviation - which stands for India Pale Ale - in the city’s beer-focused boozers. Such is their popularity, indeed, that they come in a ever-widening range of iterations: not just IPA but also white IPA, session IPA, Double IPA and even black IPA. India Pale Ale, that drunk alien would have to conclude, is the king of beer.
The reason for that is simple: hops. Nothing has done more to change beer around the world than hops. That’s an uncontroversial statement: often, when brewers talk about being forward-thinking or experimental, they mean that they used a new variety of hops. Brewers love hops. Punters love hops.
What most drinkers don’t know is the story behind these remarkable hops. One of the biggest names in the Yakima Valley - an area in Washington State, USA, that is responsible for many of the beer world’s most fashionable hops - is Gene Probasco, who works with John I Haas and is retiring this year. Probasco was the first person to breed Citra, which has become if not the most widely-grown hop then at least the most widely-coveted. For anybody involved in the supply of hops, he has almost godlike status.
Probasco’s hard work will be on display at the Hop Tap Takeover, one of the highlights of London Beer City (5-14 August). This Simply Hops event takes place this Wednesday at the Hop and Hack just off Fleet Street and will boast big hoppy beers from some of the world’s greatest brewers. “A couple of us at Simply Hops were lucky enough recently to attend a celebration for Mr Probasco’s retirement and we listened to many huge industry names struggle to find the words to express what he had done for hop growing and brewing around the world,” said Dan Christmas of Simply Hops.
“It seems odd that not many drinkers or even brewers back in the UK at that moment knew that while they enjoyed a big lip-smacking IPA, the man that pretty much started the hop “arms race” was getting ready to put his slippered feet up and leave us in the safe hands of the next generation of hop whisperers.”
The Hop Tap Takeover will be a celebration of the work of Probasco and others. Not only will you get the chance to try some amazing examples of hoppy beer, but the raw ingredient will also be available for you to rub and sniff (but not taste – they are insanely bitter when raw). Simply Hops’ resident hop experts will also be on hand to make sure that you leave knowing a bit more about the hop - and why people like Gene should be hailed for the heroes they are.