Biology instructor Ji Yong Yang investigating the aroma of a hops varietal.

Supported by total funding of $217,000 – $150,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), $30,000 from Mitacs, and $37,500 from industry partners Island Hop Company (PEI) and Crescent Island Farms (Delta, BC), "the Commercialization Potential of BC Feral Hops” research project is the next phase of previous research conducted by Ji Yong Yang of Langara's Biology Department. During the initial phase of research, Yang discovered 50 populations of feral hops in the lower mainland.

Hops plants growing on a farm.

From the 50 found, Yang identified over ten feral hops varietals that have interesting chemical profiles and aromas. In early 2022, Yang and his team of student researchers planted these promising varietals at Crescent Island Farms, evaluating chemical profile, disease resistance, and yield for which some of the feral hops have shown great potential. The goal is for Barnside Brewing to use the hops varietals identified by Yang and his team to make commercial test batches of beer.

Yang and his team will now work to continue selecting feral hops with great potential and clone them with the aim of having at least one acre of them planted at both Crescent Island Farms and Island Hops Company. Research will be conducted to determine how resistant these promising hops are to downy mildew, a highly sought-after trait by hop farmers. The monitoring and analysis of the hops’ chemical profiles will continue into next year as the varietals mature toward their optimal chemical profiles.

Current funding for the project will end summer 2023, but Yang plans on applying for another NSERC grant to continue this work with the aim of eventually having at least one commercially viable new hop varietal.”