Nick Carr on November 14, 2018 7 Comments History of Strata Hops Oregon State University’s history of hop breeding stretches all the way back to 1893. Dr. Haunold, who many consider the grandfather of US hop breeding, worked at OSU. But the last twenty years have seen the breeding program flag; finding only limited success, while slowly running out of public and private funding. In 2010 Indie Hops, owned by Roger Worthington and Jim Solberg, partnered with the university, donating a million dollars to reinvigorate the breeding program, with a new focus toward creating novel aroma varieties. Strata, a brand spanking new variety just released this year (2018), is the program’s first hop to go commercial. Strata was originally bred in 2009, even before Indie Hops came on board. Shaun Townsend, both the program’s director and assistant professor, thought a particular open-pollinated Perle hop plant might have some potential and the donation from Indie Hops allowed him to set up a field nursery of its seedlings. The selection of the most promising genotype took place in 2011. It was number 9-1-331, and given the designator X331 during the seven-year testing and evaluation process. In 2015, Strata was planted on a 9-acre test plot. The 2016 yield of 2000 lbs/acre (high for a test plot) was more than anyone had hoped for. The first Strata hops were shipped to a few breweries for evaluation. Townsend says in the above-referenced article that Strata “appears in packaged beers brewed by Fort George, Base Camp, Sierra Nevada, and Odell, to name only a few.” But, even before other brewing companies got a chance to play with Strata, it was showing itself to be a hop with promise. In 2013, Worthy Brewing, Worthington’s own company, brewed a pilot batch with Strata and entered it in Basecamp Brewing Protohop Brewfest in Portland. It won best of show. In 2017, Worthy brewing entered their Strata IPA in a state competition. Surprisingly, the beer got first. Somehow Strata was able to achieve the kind of balance usually only found by blending hop varieties. Strata is well on its way to becoming the new darling of the craft brewing community. This early popularity may make it hard for the homebrewer to find, but that will undoubtedly change as planting and production continue to ramp up in the face of its burgeoning popularity. How to Brew Beer With Strata Hops The Strata hop variety is the first patented variety from Indie Hops, which means that plants and rhizomes are not available for home propagation. However, be sure to check out our other hop profiles for some other varieties that may be available for you to grow on your own. Acid Composition Breakdown Alpha Acid: 11 – 12.5% Beta Acid: 5 – 6% Co-Humulone: 21% Oil Composition Breakdown Total Oils: 2.3 – 3.5 mL/100g Myrcene Oil: 52 – 65% (of total) Humulene Oil: 22 – 30% (of total) Caryophyllene Oil: 5 – 12.5% (of total) Franesene Oil: <1% (of total) B-Pinene Oil: 0.7 – 0.8% (of total) Linalool Oil: 0.7 – 0.94% (of total) Geraniol Oil: 0.2 – 0.5% (of total) Hop oil composition will vary between harvest years and where the hop was grown. These numbers represent an average only. Before you choose a variety to grow on your own, it is a good idea to talk to other local hop growers, as well as someone at your local homebrew supply store. They may be able to point you toward varieties that grow well in your area. General Characteristics: Origin — USA; Corvallis, OR Year Released — 2018 Growth Rate — Very Vigorous Yield — 2000-2400 lbs/acre Cones — Small to Medium; Compact Maturity — Early Susceptible to — Information not available Resistant to — Downy Mildew, Verticilium Wilt; Highly Resistant to Powdery Mildew Ease of Harvest — Great Storage — Great Patented or Public — Patent Pending Aroma & Sensory Description: Strata is described as “Passion fruit meets pot.” It brings layered notes of tropical fruit including; mango, passion fruit, melon, fresh berry/strawberry, and some citrus in the form of grapefruit. Along with this comes a dank herbal note of drifting cannabis. It also has less of the diesel/catty bite other hops with the same funky dankness carry. In this PDF Indie Hops compares key oil content between Strata, Cascade, and Perle. This comparison gives some ideas about what makes Strata special. Availability: Strata hops are not widely available yet. Commercial brewers can get in touch with Indie Hops to get commercial size packages of either whole cone or pellets. For homebrewers, it is only available through Farmhouse Brewing Supply, Mainbrew and a few other retailers, but only as pellets. As harvests get bigger, Strata will likely become much more widely available. Use: All experimentation points to Strata being a very versatile dual-purpose hop variety. Bittering with Strata brings a nice balanced bitterness. Flavor and aroma additions bring out the fruity side with tropical fruit and fresh berry brightness. Brewers say that dry hopping deepens the grapefruit and dank/herbal/cannabis elements. At this point, it has been used mostly in IPAs, Pale ales, and Session IPAs, but could work well in everything from saisons to lagers. Experimentation is going to be the name of the game here. Can Substitute With / For: At this time, there is no information out there on good substitutes for Strata hops. If you’ve played around with the variety and have some suggestions, please leave them down in the comments below. Common Beer Styles That Use Strata Hops American IPA American Amber American Pale Ale American Brown Specialty IPAs American Stout American Strong Ales Imperial Stout Saison American Sours Commercial Examples: To help you gain a better idea of this hop’s aroma and flavor I would recommend you sample as many of these as you can find. This, “research” will deepen your understanding of how Strata works in different beer styles and give you a better idea of how to use it in your own homebrewing. Uses Only Strata: Strata IPA from Worthy Brewing 2018 Chasin’ Freshes IPA from Deschutes Brewing Strata IPA from Lowercase Brewing Strata Rebellion from Bear Republic Brewing Stratabis from Local Brewing Erik Estrada IPA from Southern Lights Brewing Harvest Saison from Base Camp Brewing Strata Lager from Loowit Brewing Combines Strata With Other Hop Varieties: Timberline Tucker from Mt. Hood Brewing — Also uses Chinook and Cascade Outpatient IPA from Southern Lights Brewing — Also uses Vic Secret 2018 Hoptimum from Sierra Nevada Brewing — Also uses Crystal, Ekuanot, Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic, Loral If you have any experience brewing with Strata hops or have tasted beer that makes use of the variety be sure to share your experience in the comments below. Happy Brewing!