Celebrating France’s Finest


In 2020, HAAS® began a new partnership with Hop France and opened a whole new world of flavor to our brewing partners. Available exclusively from HAAS, French hops are known for their distinctive flavor and unique ability to round out a hop bill. From Aramis to Elixir, Mistral to Triskel, come explore the terroir of Alsace, fully captured in these beautiful French Hops.

If you’d love to learn more about Hop France, listen to the French Hops HAAS HopCast® on SoundCloud. Key Account Managers Micah Cawley and Barb Stone welcomed special guests Tim Matthews, VP of Operations/Brewing at CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, and Francis Heitz of Hop France Comptoir Agricole.

Here are a few highlights (excerpted and edited) from their conversation.

Micah Cawley: Tim, when did you discover French Hops?

Tim Matthews: It was about six and a half years ago that the journey began. I was looking for hops that could get us more of the profile for our pilsner beer. Momma’s Little Yella Pils leaned on Saaz hops and had a little bit of Sterling in it in the boil. It was always about trying to get that spicy, floral, citrusy, herbal thing going on, but we were here having trouble getting something consistent. 

We had never been to Europe before and started looking at different hops there. The Aramis hop from Alsace was suggested to us. So, we asked some fellow brewers about their experiences and, before we knew it, Francis and Antoine, his compatriot (from Hop France), were in Colorado with us, rubbing samples and evaluating. I don’t know…there was something in there, a spice, that was just tingling in my nose. We did further evaluations with the Aramis hops and, on blind sensory evaluation, it was the clear-cut winner. So we went head-first into it. 

We actually took a trip out to Alsace and spent a week out there really digging in. But we also looked at the other foods that were produced out there, as well as the grapes, and really got to know the terroir. Ever since then, we’ve used Aramis in several beers including pilsners and even IPAs, along with other Pacific Northwest flavors and Southern Hemisphere flavors, to round off the hop profile.

Micah: And how did you come to learn about Elixir?

Tim: Well, our experience with these hops is lengthy. We know them first as numbered hops. And Francis is generous enough to share them—and is transparent enough to ask for our input, and they want it. For us as a brewer, that’s huge because we’re the ones that end up using them. And watching a hop develop over time, getting to see what a hop is capable of, and what it’s meant to be, is really special. Really, it’s incredible to be a part of that entire agronomic experience.

When we started out trialing it, this was about six or seven years ago, we did two beers with it. One that used Elixir heavily on the hot side. And one that used it in both early fermentation and late fermentation. We saw different things from every different hopping strategy, and that was cool because it showed us that the hop has substance—something more concrete to it than just the big hop aromas. Elixir had a bit more juice to it. 

Ultimately, I’m a big fan of the aromas that come out of France, and Europe in general. I just think that they add something to any hop bill. To the point that we are incorporating Alsace hops into every single dry hop, just to see what it adds. And it’s very interesting because, while you can’t necessarily pick it out, the overall impression rises a bit when you have those hops in there—they fill in the blanks. And I’m a big believer in having a wide spectrum in every single hop bill. 

Micah: Barb, you traveled with CANarchy when we toured Hop France, what was your impression of these hops?

Barbara Stone: I think there are just so many ways for people to expand their spice cabinet when it comes to hops. These beautiful hops from France just have not been explored to their fullest potential. They offer the red berry and the spicy and the citrus and the floral. 

Last fall (just before COVID) we were in the HAAS® Innovations Brewery in Yakima. Virgil (McDonald, our Head Brewmaster) had brewed a single hop beer with Elixir. We were pouring the trial brew off the tank, as sort of a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what we were playing with, and people were blown away by some of the amazing red berry flavors they were getting from this beer—with just one French hop in it. I’m sad more brewers didn’t get that kind of opportunity to try it, due to COVID last year, but we definitely have the opportunity now to try to get these hops out to brewers so that they can see what they can do.

To find out more about French hops from HAAS, check out the hops page on our website and search by region for France. Or, if you’re ready to brew, contact your HAAS® Sales Representative or check out our Distributor page today.

Cheers!

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