The Loral™ hop variety is the newest “hot hop” in the impressive run of popular hops (think Mosaic and Citra) to come out of the Hops Brewing Company (HBC); a joint venture between John I. Haas and Select Botanicals Group.
The sudden and intense interest in this hop variety stems from its ability to toe-the-line between the aroma of the older hop “nobility” and the younger American varieties. It has the noble characteristics; herbal, peppery, floral. But it also carries an interesting lemon-citrus and dark fruit character that makes it unique. This uniqueness makes Loral appropriate for a wide range of beer styles.
Loral started out as a single plant in 2003; the offspring of a breeding program crossing Glacier with a male plant designated as HBC 9902, a son of the American Nugget variety. Loral has a noble French pedigree on its mother’s side, Glacier being the granddaughter of Tardif De Bourgogne.
Six years after it entered the breeding program it was selected for further trials. According to this news release from Haas, a single brewery played an important role in getting it selected.
I could find no information about which brewery this might be, but the hop did go through brewing trials at Lagunitas, Stone, and Sierra Nevada. Seems a safe bet it was one of these three that worked a little magic and helped Loral on its way.
During its ongoing breeding program, Loral was simply known as HBC 291. A label it was given during the patent application in 2012. It seems it was only when the new variety was prepping to go commercial that it was named Loral. The name is a combination of two of its aroma descriptors, lemony and floral.
After 13 years of experimentation and trials, Loral finally made her commercial debut in May of 2016.
Loral has already garnered some big headlines, being used with singular effect to single hop Stone’s Ghost Hammer, a seasonal IPA released in June of 2017 (which may or may not be back). If you happened to miss this beer don’t worry, Stone seems to have found a new hop love in Loral. They will be releasing three different beers in 2017 that includes this hop.