The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) announces the release of USDA ‘Vista’, a new seedless, high-yielding aroma hop (Humulus lupulus L.) variety. The defining characteristics of USDA Vista are its unique flavor profile in beer brewing, seedless hop cone production and high yield potential in comparison to other widely grown aroma hop lines. It is expected that brewers will utilize this variety in hop-forward brewing styles such as India Pale Ales or hazy IPAs. Vista holds the promise of excellent brewing quality coupled with adequate disease and pest resistance under current production practices.
USDA Vista was first grown at the USDA-ARS hop research facility near Corvallis as experimental line ‘2006009-074’. As a result of initial aroma assessments and superior agronomic characteristics, pilot brewing tests were performed by OSU Fermentation Science Department using hops from the USDA plots during 2010. The resulting single-hopped beer received extremely favorable response and significant interest in its future release was expressed.
It was expanded into a 96-hill plot near Toppenish, WA during 2011 and into 48-hill plot near Hubbard, OR during 2012. Subsequent pilot brewing trials published in 2015 in an IPA style brew resulted in very favorable blind taste tests with strong citrus and tropical fruit flavors followed by apple/pear notes. Continued brewing trials by members of the Hop Research Council generated additional interest in expansion of this line.
Commercial scale plots of 0.81 Hectare were established in two locations outside Grandview, WA and Keizer, OR in 2019. Additional pilot brewing tests by three major craft brewing companies during 2020 and 2021 resulted in similar flavor profiles as previously reported with highly favorability public response to USDA Vista.
This variety produces large (6-8 cm long), dense, seedless cones that mature late-season: September 4th to September 13th in Oregon and September 15th through October 1st in Washington. Observed yields (2009-2010) in the initial single-hill breeding nursery plots located near Corvallis, OR, were 1.88 kg per hill; suggesting an estimated yield of 3607 kg ha-1.
Talk nerdy to us
USDA Vista arose as a selection from an open-pollinated cross made at Corvallis, OR in 2006 between a tetraploid (2n=4X=40) ‘Perle’ female and an unknown diploid (2n=2X=20) male. Perle is a descendent of ‘Northern Brewer’ and the Halletauer male line ‘63/5/27’ with unknown genetic background. As such, USDA Vista is a triploid (2n=3X=30) female with composition of 1/4th Northern Brewer, 1/4th Halletauer male 63/5/27, and 1/2 unknown. USDA Vista is a half-sister to USDA ‘TriplePearl’ having the same mother but likely different father
due to its open-pollinated origin.
Predicted yields in advanced nursery plots (48 hills) located in Hubbard, OR ranged from 1632 (2013, baby year) to 4004 kg ha-1 (2014 to 2019) with an average yield for 2014 to 2019 of 2765 +/- 280 kg ha-1 . Average yields for USDA cultivars ‘Nugget’, ‘Triumph’ and ‘Willamette’ located in the same plots during the same timeframe were 2931 +/- 423, 2498 +/- 254 and 2025 +/- 199 kg ha-1, respectively, with only Willamette being statistically different from the other lines based on multiple Post Hoc tests.
Production estimates based on harvest of a 96-hill plot (near Toppenish, Washington) were predicted by the grower to range from 1500 to 2000 kg ha-1 during the years 2013 to 2016. Explanations for the lower predicted yields in this field trial include the possibility of hop virus/viroid infection, low water stress or differential means of estimating yield based on small plot size by the grower.
Nevertheless, elite line grow-out of USDA Vista in a 0.82 Ha commercial plot located outside Grandview, WA produced 3430 kg ha-1 during 2020 and 3587 kg ha-1 during 2021. Yields from the 0.82 Ha commercial plot located outside Keizer, OR (2792 kg ha-1 in 2021) were lower than those observed for WA. It’s important to note this plot was planted into a new hopyard that was previously used for dairy production.
Chemical analyses of USDA Vista from test plots located in OR and WA from 2009 to 2019 validate its primary use as an aroma hop with higher bittering capabilities than most aroma hops but significantly lower than bittering or “Super-Alpha” hops. Levels of alpha acid in USDA Vista (11.4% +/- 0.5%) are lower than those observed for the bittering hop USDA Nugget (13.24 +/- 0.365), similar to those seen in USDA Triumph (11.12% +/- 0.4% v/v), but significantly higher than observed in USDA Willamette (3.8% +/- 0.2% v/v).
Beta acid levels in USDA Vista (4.1% +/- 0.32%) were similar to those observed in USDA Nugget (4.45 +/- 0.23% v/v) and USDA Triumph (3.76 +/- 0.06) but higher than that observed for USDA Willamette (3.3% +/- 0.16% v/v).
Hop storage-ability is a measure of how much alpha acid is lost over time during storage. One measure of a hop’s storage-ability is called the Hop Storage Index or HSI (Nickerson & Likens, 1979) with lower values indicating a better storage potential for a cultivar. USDA Vista has relatively good storage potential with an HSI value of 0.257 +/- 0.006; which is similar to USDA Nugget (0.261 +/- 0.008), USDA Triumph (0.264 +/- 0.006) and USDA Willamette (0.25 +/- 0.012).
Cohumulone and colupulone are two chemical components making up the hop bittering resins. Levels of these two compounds provide brewers an indicator of a hop cultivar’s perceived bittering flavor by consumers. Cohumulone levels for USDA Vista (33.08% +/-0.58% v/v) were similar to USDA Willamette but higher than observed in either USDA Nugget (24.3% +/- 0.25%) or USDA Triumph (23.58% +/- 0.48%). Higher levels of cohumulone had been previously reported as contributing to a sharper bittering flavor but most recent research does not support this argument. Conversely, USDA Vista had the highest level of colupulone (59.03% +/- 0.5%) when compared to USDA Nugget (48.57% +/- 0.48%), USDA Triumph (49.07% +/- 0.59%), or USDA Willamette (56.35% +/- 0.53%). Colupulone has been reported as contributing to a cleaner, crisper bittering so higher levels are desired by brewers.
Essential oils contribute greatly to a hop cultivar’s flavor and aroma. Total essential oil levels in USDA Vista (1.41 ml 100g-1 +/- 0.26) were similar to those observed for USDA Nugget (1.467 ml 100g-1 +/- 0.24) and USDA Triumph (1.18 ml 100g-1 +/- 0.15) but higher than oil levels observed for USDA Willamette (0.65 ml 100g-1 +/- 0.18). Myrcene makes up the majority of the essential oils present in almost all hop cultivars and USDA Vista is no different. Myrcene levels for this cultivar (41.16% +/- 7.49% v/v) were not statistically different from USDA cultivars Nugget, Triumph and Willamette. Levels of limonene and linalool in USDA Vista (0.56% +/- 0.2%; 0.99% +/- 0.08% v/v respectively) did not differ from USDA Nugget or USDA Triumph but were higher than that observed for USDA Willamette. The same pattern of comparison between cultivars was observed for caryophyllene levels, which averaged 9.86% =/- 0.6% (v/v).
Another important essential oil found in hops is the compound humulene; which is thought to provide the “hoppy” aroma people associate with hops. Levels for this compound in USDA Vista (16.8% +/- 1.09% v/v) were similar to that found in USDA Nugget (19.05% +/- 1.05% v/v) but lower than that observed for USDA Triumph or USDA Willamette. High levels of humulene can override floral or fruity aromas from compounds found in lower concentrations. Thus, lower concentrations of humulene are not necessarily undesirable and may in fact increase the fruity or floral nature of a cultivar.
Finally, levels of nerol and citronellol were statistically higher in USDA Vista (3.5% +/- 0.047% v/v and 0.41% +/- 0.004% v/v respectively) than observed for USDA cultivars Nugget, Triumph or Willamette.