If you love beer then you have to love hops, it’s the cornerstone to any beer from the Stouts, to the Pale ales, to fizzy lager. Craft beer clubs will spend hours discussing the different types of hops. But what exactly are hops and how were they first discovered to make beer. Well hops actually go back quite sometime in history the first documented use of hops goes back to 736, in what is now present day Germany.
Around this time an up until the early middle ages Gruit was quite often used as the primary ingredient in beer. The British Isles did not experience this hoppy beer until the early 15th century which was imported from Holland. How for reasons unknown this led to a brutal repression of the use of hops, where in Nowrich 1471 they were banned from usage. The politics around the usage of hops also overlapped into a religious aspect. In Germany beer made from gruit often had higher taxes that needed to be paid however the issue was not the same for beer made from hops, which made it especially popular with protestants as no taxes needed to paid to the Catholic church.
By the late 1500s hops were being produced in Britain this came about primarily as the result of Dutch farmers which is one of the many reasons that the English language has overtime borrowed many Dutch words for words surround hops. It was indeed Dutch farmers along with English farmers who were the first to grow hops in present day United States.
In order for hops to grow at an effective rate they must be grown in moist temperate climate, preferring similar soils as potatoes which is why many agricultural areas that produce a high-amount of potatoes also produce a high amount of hops. Ireland has never been known as an area for producing a high amount of hops, having imported most of its crops from Britain. In the modern age it is clear to see that the historical context of hops have a direct correlation with the countries that continue to produce the highest yield. Per year Germany produces 34,000 tons; the Unites States produces 27,000 tons and the United Kingdom produces 1,600 tons. I
It always interests me to know how and why my favourite food and drinks came into existence. There are several varieties of hops that are available today, each of which relates to a certain type of beer. For example Amiarillo hops have been used in the development of IPAs and Pale ales whilst Fuggle hops are used in more English style beers such as Stout, which demonstrates how there is such variance in English style beer compared to that of American style. its clear to see that hops came about over a competition over taste, convenience and taxes from Gruit, but it also demonstrates how beer became so popular with westerners throughout history to the modern day.