The hop previously known as YQH-1320 now has a name, Elani, but there’s more to the story than that.
Some years ago, Tim Sattler (above) discovered a hop growing wild in Idaho’s St. Joe River Valley region. Tim, the owner of Yakima Quality Hops, observed the hop for years. Eventually, he brought rhizomes back to the Yakima Valley for further testing and development. DNA results confirmed it was genetically unique. That hop was cultivated and earned an experimental designation.
Previously known as YQH-1320 EXP, the new hop variety has now earned a name. It’s a big deal in a hop’s history, moving from number to name. Yakima Quality Hops’ new proprietary variety is called Elani (pronounced ee-LAH-nee). Brewers, you’ll find the geeky details here.
For Elani, it was a long, hard road getting here. The St. Joe River Valley region boasts a rich brewing history dating back to the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Back then, miners and loggers brewed their own beers using hops cultivated near their camps. Some of those hop plants went wild and survived the decades. The hop plant Tim Sattler found was likely the result of the open cross-pollination of those hop plants.
Most of the hop varieties with which brewers and beer lovers are familiar were carefully bred in captivity, so to speak. New hop varieties are the result of intentional experimentation. Lab coats, microscopes, and test tubes. You know, science and agronomics. That’s what makes Elani’s story so romantic and fantastical. These days, very few commercially viable hop varieties just pop into existence on their own.
But a romantic, unexpected story isn’t worth the paper it’s written on if the hop isn’t worthy. Yakima Quality Hops says that Elani boasts tropical notes of pineapple and guava along with white peach and citrus aromas of tangerine, lime, and orange zest. It is frequently described as clean and bright. Its mid-range alpha acid content and high total oils provide brewers flexibility to use the variety alone or in combination with other impactful hops. Suitable for both whirlpool and dry-hop applications.
“Releasing Elani feels surreal,” says Tim Sattler, who brought Elani in from the wild. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a great variety that fulfills the needs of growers, dealers, and brewers. I’m excited to continue working with brewers to meet their expectations of an outstanding aroma hop that is consistent year after year.”
The name Elani is derived from Melanie, Sattler’s late sister and the mother of YQH vice president Lee Rottweiler. “We chose Elani primarily as a tribute to my sister, Melanie, whom we lost in 2011,” Sattler explained. “Melanie was a beautiful, loving, caring, and immensely strong woman. YQH is very much a family business, co-owned by Lee and myself, and it felt appropriate to name our flagship hop after one of the most important and influential people in our lives.”
Like its namesake, Elani is a strong hop. High yields and outstanding heat tolerance make Elani suitable for diverse growing regions, which is increasingly important as recent weather patterns continue to challenge the hop industry.
Not just growers, but brewers have good things to say as well. “Elani has been such a versatile hop for us,” said Geoff Belcher, head brewer at New Realm Brewing’s location in Charleston, SC. “It shines very well by itself and plays extremely well with others. With big citrus notes and nice tropical undertones, you can expect to see Elani becoming a staple in many future recipes!”
According to Joe Pawelek, brewmaster for Wicked Weed Brewing in Asheville, NC, “Elani is truly multi-functional, whether it be hot-side, cold-side, or preferably both. Elani exhibits aromas of mango, blueberry, citrus, and cantaloupe. The hidden undertones of dank resin, papaya, and juicy fruit give it the ultimate title at Wicked Weed as the best single-hopped beer we have ever produced. Layered with your favorite hops, Elani will stand out and fit in all at once.”
At present, Elani is cultivated by CLS Farms, Leo Gasseling & Sons, and Gooding Farms. For those interested in brewing with Elani, please email Lee Rottweiler at email@example.com or Tim Sattler at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Yakima Quality Hops online.