Perrault Farms

Essential Hops History Makers

It’s an exciting time to be a craft brewer. Not only are people open to experience new tastes and flavours, they crave it. We at Collective Arts Brewing have never been ones to be traditional – through our work with and support of a variety of artists from around the world, right down to the selection of the most important ingredients of our beer: the hops. The little cone-shaped flowers (also from the same family as cannabis – a small factoid digression) are essential to beer, and we pride ourselves on using hops exclusively from the Yakima Valley in Washington state, not found anywhere in Canada.

Last article, we introduced you to the Carpenter Family Ranch, whose hops history is nothing short of impressive. We had a chance to chat with another key hop grower in the Yakima Valley: Jason Perrault. He’s a fourth generation hop grower from Perrault Farms specializing in organically grown hops and all around rock star.

 

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The Perrault family immigrated to Yakima in 1902, where Alberic Perrault (Jason’s great, great grandfather) planted his first hops in 1928 on a Moxee property, aka 13 acres of grower’s paradise. Alberic raised a large family (13 of his boys worked on the farms) and several of his sons formed their own farming operations once they got older. In 1968, Perrault Farms was established by Alberic’s youngest son, Bernard, and his wife June (Jason’s grandparents), and continues today under the direction of third generation hop grower, Steve, and his wife, Judy (Jason’s parents). Jason and his brothers Tim and Jeff round out the management team. In all, the family represents over 100 years, and four generations, of hop farming.

Perrault Farms grows a diverse array of crops but specialize in hops; growing ten varieties on several hundred acres of land (including Simcoe and that wonderful tropical-fruit-scented Citra. We use both in our beers). How did these hops surge in popularity? After joining forces with the Carpenter Family Ranch and B.T. Loftus Ranches Inc. to form Yakima Chief, Inc., the three families’ hop products were able to be directly marketed to brewers worldwide in the 80s. In 1999, Select Botanicals Group was born: an integrated botanicals management group from the three families that concentrate on breeding new hop varieties. This is where Jason comes in: he heads the breeding program at Select Botanicals where he is responsible for creating Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic hops, amongst others. Jason focuses on developing alpha hops that provide both the bittering and aroma character to beer.

 

Breeding-Process

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Hops are genetically complex – combining both male and female plants to create the different varieties and alpha content. One of the first hops he worked on and patented at Select Botanicals was Simcoe in the late 90s/early 2000s. This hops boasts several different aromas including passion fruit, pine, earth, and citrus, as well as possessing strong bittering qualities. Surprisingly, it almost didn’t make it as he couldn’t sell it at first. No need to worry about that today, since Simcoe is one of the hops used most in craft brewing. Mosaic is another interesting breed Jason worked on with the Hop Breeding Company. The daughter of Simcoe and a Nugget derived male, it’s a unique and intricate blend of floral, tropical fruity and earthy characteristics that translate very favourably into several styles of beer. Significant investment was poured into preserving the intellectual properties of each of the farms and hops produced. The level of ingenuity needs to be protected in a highly-competitive market. We at Collective Arts are overjoyed to be one of the few brewers in Canada working with such creative and distinct hops growers with an incredible deep-rooted history.

 

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The relationship between hop growers and brewers is based on melding science and art. Hop growers understand that craft brewers today are pushing the boundaries of what a beers can deliver. Creating new varieties of hops like the ones created under Jason’s watch are driving the hop craze in craft brewing. Whether an Imperial IPA, a Pale Ale or a session IPA, drinkers are the winners when it comes to the flavours the brewmasters create using these very special hops. Jason, for one, is happy to be on that ever-evolving journey to give beer drinkers an elevated experience sip after sip. We certainly are, too. Cheers Jason for your role in making our beers taste so darn good!

 

 

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