Pahto Gives Brewers Versatility and Options

Originally known as HBC 682, Pahto was the first high-alpha bittering hop released by the Hop Breeding Company. Yakima Valley Hops describes Pahto as “a smooth bittering profile with mild, pleasant aromatics.”

Used as a bittering hop, Pahto has started to become more prevalent to breweries in dry hopping as well.

Brewer connected with Scott Hedeen — the founder and Brewmaster for Burnt Hickory Brewery in Kennesaw, Georgia — along with Raney Cellars‘ co-owner Sean Raney in Millersville, Pennsylvania about their uses and experience with the hop.

Hedeen used Pahto when it was just known as HBC 682 as part of Burnt Hickory’s Hop Divergent Series.

To experiment with new hops, Hedeen is taking its base IPAs and Pils before pulling a small amount of each into smaller vessels to be dry hopped with a different hop.

“Pahto was a hop I had read a lot about and was curious about it as a new generation of bittering hops that pack more than the usual noble or high alpha hops that are usually used this way,” he said, dry hopping a Pilsner with Pahto. “I was looking to see what kind of push I could give the normal flavor that you would expect in a Pils. 

“What we got was sort of a IPA/Pilsner combo. A dry, crisp flavor with a distinct earthy danky aroma and late follow on the palate. A lot of our regulars in the tap room were pleasantly surprised to get a beer that kind of brought two worlds together.”

Raney used Pahto in a West Coast-style Pale Ale, using it as a dry hop.

BREWER: What sets Pahto apart from other similar hops?
HEDEEN: As with other high-alpha hops, there is some citrus but a good blast of floral and spice. It’s dank yet, somehow has a bit of the “Cherry Lifesaver” aroma I get with El Dorado.

BREWER: What flavors/aromas did you expect — and didn’t expect — from Pahto? How did you use them to your advantage or have to alter the idea of the beer?
RANEY: I think it would be useful to blend Pahto with some other dry hop varieties in order to tone down its aggressive characteristics. But as a single hop-beer, it turned out pretty fantastic.

BREWER: Are there any technical challenges or tips you have for using Pahto for someone that hasn’t used it yet?
HEDEEN: Keep an open mind. From what I’ve read it’s a durable hop in the hopyard, so the growers love it. It’s a hop you can use in many styles. Pils to Imperial IPA. I’d like to see how it performs in a 185-degree whirlpool.
RANEY: I think the hop overall lends well to aggressively hopped IPAs. In our Pale Ale we got notes of sweet overripe fruit and a powerful skunky “dank” characteristic.

BREWER: Do you have any “out of the box” ideas for Pahto that you want to share?
RANEY: I would love to try Pahto out in a New England style IPA to see what other flavors/aromas could come out during dry hopping.

Photo courtesy Raney Cellars

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