Beermakers Are More Willing to Experiment Than Winemakers

© H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Corbis

Wine lovers, shots have been fired! In an article for Wired, Sean Myles, an agricultural geneticist who specializes in grapes and apples at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, said that while beer lovers are willing to try anything when it comes to new and innovative hops, wine lovers lag behind in their willingness to experiment. “Hopheads are embracing diversity,” Myles was quoted as saying. “Wine snobs are viticultural racists.” Whoa. Let’s not say anything we can’t take back!

Myles provided his opinion in a piece on hop breeding, which is prevalent in the beer world. Myles’s work with hops was primarily in figuring out ways to breed mildew-resistant hops that would better flourish in Canada’s humid climate. But he also spoke to other hop growers’ willingness to experiment with breeding hops for unique smells and flavors. “The complexity is sort of infinite,” says Myles. “More people are researching the desirable and undesirable volatiles, and whether they’re heritable.”

Meanwhile, however, back in his world of grape expertise, he says the winos are far pickier. Though beer lovers are happy to try hops that have been crossbred to be unique, wine snobs say “no thank you” to unique grape breeding. “Breeders are crossing the noble European grapes with North American wild grapes suitable to our conditions, but the wine snobs won’t drink them,” he said.

Although these words seem very strong, if they motivate both wine- and beermakers to experiment more, it is a definite win-win for us consumers.

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