This morning, Yakima Chief – Hopunion announced that Alpha Analytics, a popular hop testing company, will no longer be accepting samples from outside producers. This is a setback to the burgeoning Florida hops industry and the brewers who collaborate with them. Brewers spend a great deal of time formulating recipes that balance the sweet flavor of malted grains with the bitter and aromatic flavors of hops. Without accurate analysis of hops bittering and aroma characteristics, brewers have a difficult time adjusting their recipe to the crop.
Fortunately, there are alternatives, and some of them are in the eastern US, offering lower shipping prices compared to labs in the Pacific Northwest (like Alpha Analytics). While the University of Florida, the USDA, and private organizations like Florida Hops, LLC continue to provide valuable research in cultivation and variety selection practices, UF and the USDA do not currently offer testing services. Florida Hops, LLC does offer services here in our state, as does Lakeland-based PhosLab. Virginia Tech is also contributing to east coast hop production research, and they offer testing services through their in-house lab. Michigan State has a strong hops research initiative, and they contract their testing through Alliance Analytics in Coopersville, MI.
When selecting a lab, be sure that they offer all the services that you will need. Consult your customers to determine if they will simply need alpha and beta acid levels or if they will need more expensive tests like essential oil composition analysis so you can factor this into your price. Knowing your crop’s alpha and beta acid levels is crucial when selling to any brewery or homebrew store. Farmers that sell their hops wet can benefit from the marketing aspects of essential oil composition analysis, as certain essential oils – linalool in particular, which imparts amazing flower aromas – are prone to burn-off during the drying process if not correctly controlled.
PhosLab Environmental Laboratories
806 W. Beacon Road
Lakeland , FL 33803
Services Offered: Hops acids profile, Moisture content, Hop storage index, Total essential oils volume, Essential oils profile (% composition of each major essential oil)
Virginia Tech Enology Analytics Services Laboratory
360 Duck Pond Dr.
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Services Offered: Hops acids profile, Moisture content, Hop storage index, Hops extract analysis, Total essential oils volume, Essential oils profile (% composition of each major essential oil)
Alliance Analytics Laboratories, Inc.
179 W Randall
Coopersville, MI 49404
Services Offered: Hops acids profile, Moisture content, Hop storage index, Total essential oils volume, Essential oils profile (% composition of each major essential oil), Pesticide residue
Ag Health Laboratories
445 Barnard Blvd
Sunnyside, WA 98944
Services Offered: Hops acids profile, Moisture content, Hop storage index, Total essential oils volume
Author: Matt Smith
Extension Agent I
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Agent for Sumter, Pasco, and Hernando County.