Hey everyone! Ben here.
As a brewer, I'd like to say of few words on brewing with seeded (pollinated) hops. There currently exists a very prevalent stigma about brewing with seeded hops. This has led to the vast majority of hops, from all corners of the globe, to be grown in a 'sterile' setting which limits pollination. I'd like to shed some light on the issue.
First off, why seedless? From a production standpoint, seedless hops command a premium price over seeded hops simply due to the fact that most brewers prefer seedless hops. There is the possibility of seed fats imparting off flavors in beer and brewers do not want to pay for the weight added by the existence of seeds.
Another issue arises in the processing phase. Many brewers prefer pelletized hops. Pellet hops are preferred for several reasons which all ultimately make the brew day faster and easier. When a seeded hop cone is processed into pellet form, the seeds are crushed which allows their fats to affect the taste of the beer. Processors have developed ways to remove seeds but these costs are presumably passed on to the consumer.
So, with all these obvious downsides, why would Round Table Hops want to grow pollinated hops? Let me preface this question by saying that, with our growing technique, we will be able to produce pollinated or non-pollinated hops depending on the customers preference. Now, lets dispel some of these downsides.
With unprocessed hops seeds, little to no seed fats would leech into the beer. Malted grains and other grain adjuncts would instill much larger quantities of seed fats. Crushed seeds could however be a problem but, as stated before, many processors remove the seeds before processing. High level beer judges are often able to observe subtle differences in beer brewed with seeded vs seedless hops but a trend has yet to emerge over which they prefer.
There are also several triploid varieties (our triploid is Willamette) which are plants with imbalanced chromosomes. The males from these varieties have been put with diploid varieties to stimulate growth but, due the the chromosome imbalance, no (or very few) seeds will be produced. What do I mean when I say stimulate growth? Pollinating hops has shown increased yields up to 25%! That means more hops and more beer. I think we can all get on board with that!
Round Table Hops believes there is always a better way to do something. And just because something has been done one way for hundreds of years doesn't mean that is how we have to keep doing it. We are here to challenge the status quo. We are here to change the industry. We are here to connect new age technology with an old way of thinking. Bees are an important part of the agriculture industry and our lives as a whole. We are here to support that. If that means we have to change the stigma by showing the world how awesome pollinated hops can be, then that's what we'll do.