Striking gold with El Dorado®: A hop ahead of its time
Sometimes it takes a while to know you have a good thing going. El Dorado® came on the brewing scene in the late 1990s, long before the heyday of super juicy IPAs. Although, not much was known about where the hop came from.
“We know Comet was its grandmother,” says Eric Desmarais, co-owner of CLS Farms in Moxee, Washington, here in the Yakima Valley. “Its grandfather is a wild Neomexicanus male from Colorado.”
Recently, we sat down with Eric and his wife, Shelley Desmarais, along with Reid Lungren, Cherie Steinmetz and Claire Desmarais from CLS Farms for the latest episode of the HAAS® HopCastTM. (The full podcast is available now on SoundCloud). Virgil McDonald, Head Brewmaster at the HAAS® Innovations Brewery, was also on hand with a special El Dorado single-hop beer brewed especially for the occasion.
“We came up with the name El Dorado because its lupulin is so dark golden. When it’s at its peak and you open it up, it’s literally like looking at gold,” Eric said.
In 2010, El Dorado® began to take off—but, surprisingly, it took about ten years for the hop to really hit its stride. Today, El Dorado® is available from HAAS® as highly consistent LUPOMAX® pellets, efficient INCOGNITO® and traditional T90 pellets.
“It takes a while for brewers to learn how to brew with it,” said Eric. “One of the big issues is learning how to play with it in the beers and how to mix it. El Dorado has a high oil content and really high alpha content—so they weren’t putting enough in. They thought the oil alpha level would give them more response. It took a lot more El Dorado in the beer to really get it to snap. That’s why I think El Dorado is going to be a really good fit for LUPOMAX® because that process is all about intensity, and I think it’ll really benefit.”
While CLS Farms was watching brewers learn how to brew with El Dorado®, the production managers were learning how to fine-tune their operations to meet the hop’s unique growing characteristics.
“It has high alpha acids that can be used for bittering, but we grow it as an aroma hop,” says Reid Lungren, production manager at CLS. “Over the years, as it’s increased in popularity, we’ve widened the picking window. What we’re finding is that, the deeper that it’s gotten into its maturity, the more consistent and more true-to-type characteristics come out.”
And that can dramatically affect the flavor and aroma results brewers can get from the hop.
“Early in the picking window you might get some bright citrus notes,” Reid noted. “In the middle, there’s melon and pear. The later you pick it, when the lupulin gets deep, dark gold and the oils are just oozing out of the cone, we’re getting that hard candy, deep fruit tropical note. That’s where it thrives and can be the best hop it can be. That’s where it translates really consistently from the field to the beer.”
If you’re ready to brew up a batch of El Dorado® beer, call your HAAS® sales representative today. Or visit our distributor page to learn how to get your hands on this distinctive and unique hop variety.