The contributions of a relatively unknown few can have such a significant impact. This is the case with Gene Probasco, retiring from 39 years of leading the agronomic and plant breeding program at John I. Haas, Inc., and most recently as part of the joint venture between Haas and Select Botanicals LLC known as the Hop Breeding Company. The Hop Breeding Company experimental hop moniker is familiar with brewers worldwide, from the largest to the smallest. And too are the names ascended from the HBC such as Citra® and Mosaic® which are defining the brewing landscape at the moment.
Having the privilege of touring a hop yard with Gene brings with it an appreciation of his knowledge and experience, not to mention the obvious kinship he has with his “progeny” and the delight he has in sharing their stories. It’s therein that Gene gains his fans – those who will truly miss him as a regular feature when visiting Yakima.
So last month at the Craft Brewer’s Conference in Philadelphia, Gene received much deserved rounds of recognition in the announcement of his retirement, one event honoring him in the presence of friends and associates at a special function at the Capital Grille in downtown Philly, and then another with Charlie Papazian recognizing Gene in introductory remarks of the World Beer Cup ceremony dinner. Following Charlie’s descriptions of some of Gene’s contributions and his upcoming retirement, Gene, with a wide grin, stood and waved to an appreciative applauding crowd. As nice as that was, had these attendees of the WBC all personally known Gene as many of us do and how he has contributed to ultimately their successes, he’d have been enthusiastically hoisted on our shoulders and carried across the room as if we had just won the Super Bowl.
Thank you Gene and Cheers!