Hop Chats: HBC 472

by | Nov 28, 2019

Contributed by: Tommy Yancone, YCH Technical Brewer 

Yakima Chief Hops maintains a strong partnership with Yakima Chief Ranches, an organization that works to develop new hop varieties to give you even more options when brewing beer. The YCR breeding program is overseen by one of our grower-owners, Jason Perrault. Jason and his team work year-round alongside the Hop Breeding Company to find sustainable new promising cultivars that display exciting brewing characteristics, while being agronomically viable for our growers to produce. The promising cultivars are given an accession number such as HBC 472.

Volumes of the hops in development are increased year over year, as they progress through the program. During the initial years of the breeding process, new varieties are spread into single rows, then a small plot, then whole fields, then into many fields. Eventually, there are enough plants in the ground to evaluate the quality and consistency of a variety with a commercially harvestable volume. The YCR and HBC breeding programs have developed hop brands such as Simcoe®, Ahtanum®, Citra®, Mosaic®, Loral®, and Sabro®.

Not so fast! Before a variety is officially named, it goes through a multi-year process of trials within the brewing community. This allows YCR to get a feel for how the plant behaves in the ground, and it gives us time to collect valuable feedback from brewers. Some of the experimental hops we are really excited about are HBC 692, HBC 630, HBC 520 and HBC 472.

Shining a spotlight on HBC 472, this experimental variety was originally given its accession number back in 2008. It is a sister of Sabro® (both bred from ‘YCR123’), and therefore it shares a lot of the same qualities that make Sabro® unique. Sabro® and HBC 472’s mother was a Humulus lupulus var. neomexicanus which expresses itself with a background aroma of coconut and tropical fruit. Most American hops are classified as humulus lupulus var. lupulus or H. l. var. lupuloides, which have a more classic pine or citrus aroma.  

“One of our key breeding objectives is to push hop aroma beyond existing expectations,” said Jason Perrault of Yakima Chief Ranches.” With an intense oaky/vanilla/coconut character that translates incredibly well into beer, HBC 472 does just that. It is a truly innovative and unique advance in hop aroma and flavor.”

HBC 472 is a very versatile hop that we are still discovering new ways to use, here at YCH. With the winter season approaching, there are opportunities to try using HBC 472 in some rule-bending styles. Along with its coconut and tropical fruit aroma, HBC 472 also can contribute some barrel-like character. Adding HBC 472 can add another layer of complexity to a hop-forward porter, where the roastiness from the malt would work well with the coconut and wood character from the hops.

Alternatively, using HBC 472 in a stronger stout can give you barrel-aged characteristics, with a lot less hassle! It can be added in the dry hop as well, just be aware that HBC 472 can add some green/grassy aromas, and those can obviously be heightened when dry hopping. Happy brewing!

To purchase HBC 472, log in or create a business account at shop.yakimachief.com. (Currently available for commercial brewers only)

We invite you to brew with HBC 472 and provide feedback about your experience by emailing us at [email protected].