Hop Growers of America just released its annual report. This is the organization’s final, official year-end report on the 2021 hop crop, offering a more elaborate and in-depth report than the one I referenced in a story a couple months ago. There’s a lot of information to unpack and interpret, but one thing that jumped out at me was Pahto™.
Beer enthusiasts like to know things about the beers they drink. Pahto, and its increasing prevalence, is a thing. This seems a good time to introduce a new variety of hop, Pahto, which is now the seventh most-grown hop in the U.S.
2021 Top 10 Hop Varieties
- El Dorado
The word new is a bit misleading. Pahto has been around for a while. The Hop Breeding Company (HBC) officially introduced the name back in 2018, but previously Pahto was referred to as HBC 682.
Below, I share information about Pahto’s flavor characteristics and other attributes. But first…
Farmers and Brewers and Pahto
Gaining popularity? Pahto production measured at 3.5 million pounds in 2018, the year it was officially named, and nearly 5 million pounds of Pahto in 2021. To put that into perspective, the two most-produced hops in 2021 were Citra and Mosaic. Hop growers produced in excess of 17.5 million pounds of Citra and in excess of 14 million pounds of Mosaic in 2021.
There are two important terms that relate to the popularity of Pahto. One term appeals to brewers and the other to farmers. Pahto is a high-alpha, high-yield variety. Alpha Acids: 17-20 percent. Beta Acids: 4.5-6.0 percent. Hops are sold by the pound and Pahto yields a lot of poundage per acre. Good agronomics for the farmers. Brewers get more punch per pound because of the high alpha content.
According to Hop Breeding Company, “Pahto is a ‘super-high alpha’ hop that growers love because it is late-maturing and resistant to powdery and downy mildew. When used as an early-kettle addition, Pahto consistently delivers a clean canvas of bitterness that can be used for a wide variety of beer styles.”
Pahto for Beer Drinkers
Agronomics and alpha content aside, what matters to beer drinkers are the flavor characteristics. It is important to note that because of its high alpha content, Pahto is most often used as a bittering hop and less often used for its aromatic qualities. It is not the kind of hop that gets called out by name in beer descriptions.
These days many brewers are looking for ways to reduce hop bitterness while still providing gobs of aromatic hop character — the citrusy, pine, floral, and dank qualities beer drinkers love. Hop producers, like Hopsteiner, are addressing this by introducing products like Salvo, but that’s a story for a different day.
According to Hop Breeding Company, which bred and developed the hop, “Pahto delivers a smooth bittering profile with mild, pleasant aromatics.”
The press release that introduced Pahto by name in 2018 said, “The HBC is well-known for creating powerhouse aroma hops such as [Citra] and [Mosaic], and the recently-released [Sabro]. The addition of Pahto nicely rounds out the HBC portfolio by providing brewers with a high-alpha hop that delivers a smooth bittering profile with mild, pleasant aromatics. The aroma profile of the hop cone is described as herbal, earthy, and floral. When used as a bittering hop, Pahto provides a very neutral flavor and a pleasant bitterness to the beer.”
What About the Name?
The name Pahto is a nod to the word indigenous people used for Mount Adams, the second-highest mountain in Washington State. Because the mountain is so prominently visible from Yakima, and since runoff from the mountain contributes to irrigating the fields, the name seems fitting.
“We liked that the name Pahto paid tribute to Yakima Valley, the heart of the hop world, as well as to the local history and geography,” said Jason Perrault of Yakima Chief Ranches. “We’re focused on sustainability because we want to protect our natural resources, and growing hops that are high-yielding and disease-resistant contributes to that goal.”