Jason Perrault: The Hop Head
Ever sip an IPA that tasted like mango or smelled like a Christmas tree? Chances are that's thanks to Jason Perrault. As CEO and head breeder at Washington's Select Botanicals Group, he's helped cultivate many of the hops — the green flowers that bestow beer with flavor — that have transformed American brewing. Among the hits: Citra hops, which has inspired a whole category of citrusy beers, and the fruity, tropical Mosaic. Creating a new hop is not for the easily discouraged: Only about one of every 40,000 cultivars will come to market. "I always joke that breeding is a depressing job," Perrault says, "because you throw away 99.999 percent of your life's work." Perrault sends out experimental hops to brewers, soliciting feedback that's rarely uniform. Promising varieties include one offering a minty aroma and another imparting a woody, vanilla-like flavor that mimics barrel-aging. "We're just starting to scratch the surface on hop flavors," Perrault says.