Neomexicanus in Various Guises. Concluding Part.

Following on my notes of yesterday, itemized herein are the instalments I was able to find of J.D. Harlan’s 1941 article “New Varieties of Hops”. This is all or most of it, certainly.

Perusal suggests there may be some repetition or multiple publication in these pieces. I did not methodically review them, apart my interest in Cats-Tails and its American wild hop component.

Clearly though anyone who wants a good idea of what the Geneva Experiment Station Bulletin covered should read them all.

August 1 (all 1941, all The Waterville Times).

August 3.

August 3, part II.

August 8. 

August 20.

August 27.

September 4.

Sept. 10.

Sept. 11.

Sept. 17.

Sept. 24.

October 1.

Harlan was a long-time hop specialist with the New York (State) Agricultural Station at Geneva, NY. The Station was tasked post-Prohibition with reviving New York’s hop industry.

The endeavour was ultimately not successful, but not for want of trying. The Waterville Times series was drawn from the Bulletin mentioned, which likely is available elsewhere in toto.

In this series, Harlan records hop performance following a four year trial of varieties planted in an experimental yard near Waterville, NY. Tested were:

  • old American varieties

  • newer varieties developed in England

  • some Continental varieties

Professor Salmon’s hybrids were clearly to the fore for the second group including Brewers Gold, Bullion, Cats-Tails, and Brewers Favourite. Brewers Favourite was a cross between a Cluster variety and an English landrace.

Cats-Tails is mentioned numerous times for various metrics. Here I would note, per the study, that in general brewers did not favour Cats-Tails. Second, the neomexicanus element originated in Colorado. In one instalment Harlan mentions “foothills” in the Rockies.

Colorado is of course a Southwestern state, directly north of New Mexico. The range of the Rocky Mountains extends southward through Colorado into New Mexico, their southern terminus.

Interwar reports by Professor Salmon on new varieties of hops similarly state the American wild hop (humulus Americanus) crossed with a male English hop (humulus lupulus) originated in Colorado. Such crossings produced Cats-Tails aka OZ79 and other seedlings.

See for example the 1939 report included in the September-October 1940 Journal of the Institute of Brewing. Cat’s-Tails is listed, among other hybrid seedlings.

My object here is not to investigate the relative merits of Cats-Tails. Evidently it did not have a long career. I might add though it had a high soft resin content, in particular for alpha acid content. This was a trait of some hybrids developed by Salmon, and no doubt Cats-Tails came as far as it did due to this factor.

Harlan included a table showing alpha acid rendering for a group of hops including Cats-Tails, in his August 8, 1941 instalment.

“Alphas” for Cats-Tails were 9.40%, impressive for the time. Bullion and another Manitoba seedling, and one variety of Cluster, came in higher but comparatively not by much, considering too seasonal variations. Many hops were under, notably the Czech Saaz, not a surprise of course.

Returning to a point I made in the first part of these notes, brewers might investigate whether hybrids are available today, if not likely Cats-Tails, that reflect genetic history from this Colorado hop. Maybe growers, here or in England, would be minded to plant Cats-Tails anew.

What displeased brewers back then, certainly for ale hops, may well find favour today, as craft history suggests.

Almost certainly the prized “dank” of today would have raised brewers’ hackles in the Thirties. We saw one hop back then, a Manitoban hybrid, termed “rank”. That’s only one letter off from dank, man.





Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.