Ales for ALS – Beers with a Cause, and a Lot of Hops

Beer has a remarkable ability to promote the common good. Case in point, the Ales for ALS program. Spearheaded by one of the nation’s top hop farms, Loftus Ranches of Yakima, the Ales for ALS program raises money for the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). A few dozen breweries across the country, a handful of which are here in the Pacific Northwest, are brewing beers using a unique hop blend produced by Loftus Ranches and Hop Union. Each brewery is donating a portion of the proceeds from the beers to ALS TDI.

We’ve known about the program for some time now but decided to wait until the beers were available to tell you the story. Where did this program come from? Well, like so many other families around the world, ALS has touched the Smith family—the folks who operate Loftus Ranches. It is a cause near and dear to their hearts. Working with Hop Union, they produced a proprietary blend of hops. These hops are provided no-charge to select breweries that agree to donate a portion of the proceeds.

Breweries in Washington producing Ales for ALS beers include Bale Breaker Brewing (Yakima), Engine House 9 (Tacoma), Fremont Brewing (Seattle), and Two Beers Brewing (Seattle). Oregon breweries include Deschutes Brewing (Bend), Deschutes Public House (Portland), and Full Sail Brewing (Hood River). When you visit one of these breweries, ask for the beer. Look for it at your local pub. Click here to see the complete list of participating breweries (nationwide).

To date, I have sampled two different Ales for ALS beers. At Two Beers Brewing (The Woods Tasting Room), I recently enjoyed a deliciously hoppy SMaSH ALS. Last weekend, at the Washington Brewers Festival, I enjoyed a couple glasses of Bubba’s Brew from Bale Breaker Brewing. The common thread between the beers was the intense hop character. This hop blend is comprised primarily of high alpha aroma hops. You may not know it, my dear hop-crazed lupulin lunatics, but high alpha aroma hops are probably what you crave. They’re the hops that make you say “Wow!” Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe, Mosaic, and so on.

As of yesterday, Two Beers Brewing was pouring SMaSH as well as the Bubba’s Brew from Bale Breaker. Might be worth a trip to SoDo to try them side by side. Of course, I make no promises and you should check with The Woods Tasting Room to see if they have both (or either) of these beers on tap.

Hop Geek Info

There are four different hops in the Ales for ALS blend. Some of them, you have never heard of because they don’t really have names yet. Others are related to hop varieties with which you may be familiar. So let’s get down to the serious hop geekery.

HBC 462 (35 percent) – HBC 462 is a high alpha aroma hop selected for its strong agronomics, exceptional storage stability and pleasant aroma. The aroma has been described as having a grape-like fruitiness and herbal/spicy notes of mint and tea.

  • Alpha: 15.5 – 16.5
  • Beta: 4.0 – 5.0
  • Co-h: 37 – 40
  • Total oil: 1.5 ml/100g

HBC 344 (30 percent) – A daughter of YCR 5 (Warrior®), HBC 344 was selected for its exceptionally unique green apple and tropical aroma. Its relatively high alpha acid content and unique aroma make it a great choice for hop-forward beers.

  • Alpha: 14.5 – 15.5
  • Beta: 4.5 – 5.5
  • Co-h: 25 – 29
  • Total oil: N/A

HBC 369 (25 percent) – You may know it as Mosaic. A daughter of YCR 14 (Simcoe®), the HBC 369 hop variety was released in 2012 under the Mosaic™ brand name. Mosaic hops are valued for their exceptionally diverse aroma and flavor contribution to beer. A wide array of descriptors have been used to characterize this hop including tangerine, mango, blueberry, bubblegum, and earthy just to name a few.

  • Alpha: 11.5 – 13.5
  • Beta: 3.2 – 3.9
  • Co-h: 24 – 26
  • Total oil: 1.0 – 1.5 ml/100g

HBC 366 – Sensory analysis of HBC 366 shows marked peaks of citrus, tropical fruit and pine with nearly zero negative attributes. These descriptors translate brilliantly into the finished flavor and aroma of the beer, in part due to an exceptionally high oil content of 2.3 – 4.3%. A daughter of YCR 5 (Warrior®), HBC 366 has good argonomics and a relatively high alpha acid level.

  • Alpha: 11.5 – 13.5
  • Beta: 3.2 – 3.9
  • Co-h: 24 – 26
  • Total oil: 2.3 – 4.3 ml/100g

What is ALS? (AKA: Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that leads to paralysis, due to the death of motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain.

  • There is no known cure for the disease.
  • The average person survives only 2-5 years following diagnosis.
  • About 5,000 people in the US are diagnosed with ALS each year.
  • There are about 30,000 people in the US diagnosed with ALS today.
  • The worldwide population of ALS patients is estimated at 450,000.

About ALS Therapy Development Institute

The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) is the world’s leading ALS research organization and aims to discover and develop effective treatments and a cure for ALS. Built by and for patients, the Cambridge, MA based drug development institute operates as a 501c3 nonprofit: combining the optimal entrepreneurial practices of a biotechnology and pharmaceutical company with the passion and urgency of a nonprofit mission. For more information, please visit us online at



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  1. Bubba’s Brew was pretty darn good! I’m heading to Bale Breaker again this weekend; can’t wait to drink some more.

  2. Tony, if you get a chance try the Two Beers Brewing SMaSH too, on tap now at their taproom. Last night we had a chance to try the SMaSH and Bubba’s side-by-side and all I know is, that is a mighty good hop blend.

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