Some members of LAB took part in a Fuggles seedling hop trial in collaboration with Wye Hops Ltd. back in 2013. Here’s the write-up of that trial and the resulting newsletter from Wye Hops.
Update from Peter at Wye Hops, September 2016
Thank you for your message. I certainly recall the trials your group did with 19/6. In fact, the brewing trials and farm trials of 19/6 are right at the front of my mind as I write this having been describing them to two groups of visitors during this week. On Monday I gave a talk to the Southern Section of the IBD and on Tuesday I gave the East Anglian Craft Brewers Association a tour around our hop collection garden. One of the members of the Anglian Brewers was wearing a tee-shirt with the London Amateur Brewers logo and he recalled those brewing trials although he did not take part. As I said, I mentioned 19/6 to both groups.
I am afraid that you are expecting hop developments to move much more rapidly than the biology of the hop plant will allow. The plants were propagated for two farm trials during 2014, as you say, and the resulting setts planted in the spring of 2015. The trials were chosen to be on farms where the pressure from wilt disease was known to be quite high. One was in the West Midlands and one was in the South East. There was not much crop to take off the young plants in 2015 and we deliberately decided not to cut them at harvest to strengthen the rootstocks for 2016. We were able to make assessments of the growth habit of the variety and we were also able to confirm our previous test results that it shows moderate resistance to wilt disease. At both farm sites it has grown well in 2016 and we have had good harvests from it. We are currently getting the crop and analysis data from the farms. We are also currently arranging for commercial brewing trials to be carried out using the hops harvested a just week or so ago.
So, the variety is continuing to progress towards commercialisation having now had its first commercial harvest and about to start its first commercial brewing trials. It is too early to yet give it a name. There is also a slight problem with giving it a name because we have two further Fuggle seedlings in plots this year which look quite promising and which have been found in our wilt tests last year to have strong resistance to wilt. These are the first Fuggle seedlings we have ever had with strong resistance. The two selections need to be assessed in pilot brews to see how much like their mother Fuggle they are in the brew. So, we are hesitant to name 19/6 as a new Fuggle substitute if a “better” variety is clearly also coming along.