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Prades prepares for the harvest
09:24 h — It’s a big day in Prades: the hop harvest is starting at our plantation, the pivotal moment of a season marked by hard work, setbacks and learning. The atmosphere is reminiscent of any great occasion; many hands are needed to speed up the process, so half the town have joined in to do their bit. “The strategy is to avoid leaving the plant waiting once it’s been cut, because hops are very sensitive to oxygen and light,” says C. Abella, the engineer who runs the plantation. After peeling and separating the cones from the leaves, the humidity of the hops is at 75-80%, so they need to be dehydrated until they reach 10%. This is the final step before they are vacuum-packed and sent to be pelletised, which is the process that shapes them into the small cylinders that will ultimately be sent to the factory. “This year we expect the harvest to reach 700 to 800 kg of dried nugget flowers, which is quite a success considering the hydric stress that the plants have been under due to the summer heat waves,” says Abella, who expects to multiply next year’s production by 3 or 4 times thanks to the maturity of the plants and the knowledge gained during this year’s intense season.
“We expect the harvest to reach 700 to 800 kg of dried nugget flowers”
A matter of smell and taste
11:35 h — 1 room, 14 people and 82 glasses of beer. No, this isn’t a party, it’s one of the tasting sessions that take place in our factory every day. This is where the panel meet, a group of up to 22 people who are specially trained to identify aromas and flavours with great precision. “These sessions are a very powerful tool,” says M. Sanz, head of Damm’s Sensorial Analysis department, “because they allow us to assess the profile of a beer and detect abnormalities much faster than any kind of laboratory analysis.” That’s why the members of the panel congregate each day; they are all Damm employees who have volunteered to be on the panel and received the necessary training, but they are also selected based on their skills and abilities. “After all,” says Sanz, “identifying aromas and flavours is different for every person, depending on their sensitivity and experiences, someone can be reminded of their childhood, their holidays… there’s a technical side to tasting, but it also relies heavily on emotions.”
“Sensorial analysis is a very powerful tool because it allows us to assess the profile of a beer and detect abnormalities.”