The Hops Chart started as a side project after reading the book Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels, which took a deep dive into how the acid content in hops established a beer’s bitterness, and how the various oils in hops impact the flavors and aromas of beer when added towards the end of the wort boil. These oil and acid stats would typically be listed on packaging to a given type of hops, but we really wanted some way to understand hops characteristics in relation to each other, so we could understand what exactly we like about our favorite craft beers, find appropriate substitutions when a hop variety was out of stock, and most importantly, make better informed choices when designing new recipes.
The initial version of the design was completed over a couple weeks in our spare time (and only included about 40 varieties of hops). We tossed an initial draft of the design onto some home brewing forums to seek feedback, and were quickly flooded with encouragement, suggestions, and requests for copies of print whenever it was ready.
After months of tweaking the design, adding new types of hops (66 total) and updating the data, we finally did an offset run of 24” by 36” prints on Sundance 80lb felt finish paper in the summer of 2011. Prints started flying off the (digital) shelves from our mini-site hopschart.com by both homebrewers and craft breweries all around the world.
In 2016 we embarked on a long-overdue update. In the five years since the Hops Chart’s launch, the amount of available varieties had exploded. To maintain a consistent print size, 90 varieties would be the most that could fit. So we analyzed sales data and Google search data to determine the 90 “most popular” varieties. After a full data refresh and design update, the Hops Chart 2nd Edition was launched in November of 2016.
What started as a dataviz exercise turned into our first physical product, and it’s own small business. The Hops Chart has been shipped to over 30 countries around the world, along with a growing resale presence homebrew shops, and a thriving Instagram audience for our weekly featured hop.