'Teamaker' Hops Offer Benefits Without Bite
McGinnis January 3, 2008
Northerners sip it from steaming mugs, whereas Southerners prefer it
super-sweet in ice-cold glasses. However it's prepared, tea is a popular
beverage in the United States. Now, scientists from the Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) are offering a new twist on
this old favoritewith assistance from a surprising source.
Hops are best known as ingredients in another popular beverage, but
the qualities that recommend them to beer production have a variety of
additional applications. A growing appreciation for their natural antimicrobial
benefits has led to an expansion of their use in products such as processed
sugar, animal feed and tea.
'Teamaker' is a new hop variety released by scientists in the ARS
Forage, Seed and Cereal Research Unit (FSCRU) in
Corvallis, Ore. It has an alpha acid content of 0.6 to 1.8 percent, giving it
the lowest alpha acid concentration of any commercially available hop variety.
In addition, its beta acid levels (5.4 to 13.2 percent) are significantly
higher than those found in most varieties.
Bitter alpha acids, which give beer its distinct flavor, promote the
yeast-brewing process and hinder bacterial growth. Betas, which also inhibit
bacteria, have little effect on flavor.
An extremely high beta-to-alpha ratio gives Teamaker all the health
benefits of traditional hops cultivars without their characteristic bitterness,
creating opportunities for nontraditional uses. In addition to herbal teas,
beta acids from hops can substitute for formalin in sugar processing. And new
research suggests that they may have agricultural benefits as wellfor
example, as an alternative to antibiotics in animal feeds.
During the past decade, FSCRU researchers have bred several new
varieties of hops to improve their current uses and create new ones. They have
developed and released hop cultivars with traits like disease resistance,
climate tolerance and aesthetic appeal.
about this research in the January 2008 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.