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RETURN OF MATERIAL TO THE ROOT OF THE HOP
Last Revised 01/30/2015

In the old-fashioned way of growing hops, the bine or vine, which renews itself from the permanent root every year, is trained up one or more wooden poles from 10 to 15 feet high, and when the hops are ready for picking the bine is cut near the ground level, the pole is pulled up and laid so that the pickers can conveniently pick off the hops into their bins or baskets. Of late years the poles have largely been replaced by strings of coir yarn, which are attached to permanent wires running across the hop garden and supported by stout posts. When the hops are ready for picking the string is cut at the top and falls down with the bine twined round it, so that the hops can be readily picked without any cutting of the bine. But though these systems of growing hops upon string and wire are gaining ground every year, a considerable proportion of the total acreage of hops is still grown upon poles, in which case the bine must be cut before the pole can be pulled up. At the time the hops are picked the plant as a whole is far from ripe, the bine and the leaves are green and active, sometimes the sap is still flowing so freely that the cut surfaces "bleed" considerably.

On general theoretical grounds it might be expected that this cutting of the bines before the plant is ripe must result in a considerable loss to the permanent root; not only would the leaves assimilate and manufacture carbohydrates from the air, but probably some of the valuable material in the bine and the leaf would be withdrawn as the plant ripened, and be stored in the root to assist the development of the plant in the following year. Although this has never been demonstrated, practical men had noticed that hops generally " break " more strongly in the spring where they are grown on string and not cut down at picking time than where they are grown upon poles, and it is considered one of the advantages of stringing over poling that cutting of the bines is avoided. In the garden of the South Eastern Agricultural College at Wye one of the experimental plots was formerly set with poles, and it had been noticed that on this plot the hops started more weakly than in the rest of the garden where the bines had been cut in the previous autumn.

In order to ascertain if the withdrawal of material from bine and leaf of the hop to any material extent does take place as the plant ripens and dies down, certain hills were marked, and hops, leaf, and bine were separated and weighed at the usual picking time, September 2 ist. Some adjoining hills were left untouched till they were dead, and on November 21st the bine and leaf was also collected and weighed.

   The material thus obtained was dried, sampled, and analysed, with the results set out below* :—

[table]

To estimate from these figures the quantities per acre of each of the constituents that are removed from the land or returned to the roots it is necessary to know the weights of the hops, leaf, and bine respectively, for which purpose there

*Since the above was written a paper has appeared, by Prof. Fruwirlh and Dr. Zielstorff (Land. Versuch. Stat. LV., 1901, p. 9), giving corresponding analyses of hops grown in the garden of the Agricultural College at Hohenheim, Wurtemberg, rorr. which they arrive at a similar conclusion as to the return of nutrient material to the root. are also available two sets of observations made by Professor Percival in 1895. The green weight per hill of six bines in each case was as follows :—

[table]

   Both the actual and the relative weights in these three cases vary considerably. If the mean weights be combined with the analyses before set out, on the basis of i,ooo hills to the acre, a very common rate of planting, the results give the following quantities of material as contained in an average crop at picking time :—

[table]

   These figures, being based on only a few determinations of quantities that are variable, are at best only rough approximations to a mean; as regards the hops themselves, the most variable element, they correspond to a crop of about 16 cwt. of dried hops per acre, the leaf and bine represent much more nearly the average amounts.

   The amounts removed by the whole plant are not unlike the quantities taken from the soil of an average crop of Swedes; they are roughly equivalent to 5 cwt. of Nitrate ot Soda, 6 cwt. of Kainit, and 2 cwt. of Superphosphate, per acre. It must not be supposed, however, that the above mixture represents the amount or proportions of manure to use for the crop, for it often happens that the particular constituent least abundant is that which the plant finds a special difficulty in obtaining from the soil, and of which it most wants an extra supply as manure.

   The amount of dry matter produced per acre affords a slight indication as to the amount of water required by the hop plant, for the researches of Lawes and Gilbert, Hellriegel, King, and Dr. H. Brown, have furnished figures showing the relation between the amount of water that is transpired by a plant, and the amount of dry matter formed, and though no figures are yet available for the hop plant, a fair approximation can be obtained by taking the average figure of 300 lbs. of water transpired for each pound of dry matter produced. The dry matter produced being 3,7 85 lbs. per acre, or 17 tons, the amount of water required will be 510 tons per acre, or a little more than 5 inches of rain must pass through the hop plant during its growth. The water required by the crop is thus not very large, being about the same as that needed by a good crop of clover or seeds, but much less than that which is requisite for a crop of roots, especially of mangolds, and this enables one to understand how such great crops of hops can be grown in East Kent, a district of small rainfall and extreme evaporation.

By comparing the analyses of the bine and leaves at picking time with the corresponding material when the plant has ripened and died, it will be seen that there has been a considerable migration of the valuable constituents to the root. In the dead bine the proportion of nitrogen is only about onethird of what is present when the plant is growing, while the potash and the phosphoric acid have been still more thoroughly removed. In the case of the leaves the comparison is more difficult to make, since the dead leaves have lost by decay and weather much of their softer combustible material. This is

evident from the increased proportion of ash in the dry matter, for no access of fresh mineral material is likely to have taken place, the amount has only increased relatively owing to the loss of the other non-mineral dry matter. But even the dry matter of the dead leaves is poorer in nitrogen and potash, though slightly richer in phosphoric acid than the dry matter of the green leaves.

In calculating from these analyses the quantities of mate rial returned to the root stock during the ripening of the plant after the hops have been picked, it is necessary to make estimates of the weights of dead bine and leaves, for the actual amounts cannot be ascertained with accuracy.

As regards the bine, the weight of dry matter per acre will be less when dead than when green, because both combustible material and mineral matter will have been withdrawn; but to get any trustworthy idea of the extent of this loss of weight it would be necessary to compare the weights of green and dead bine over a considerable area. A trial of five hills only of each gave 17 ozs. of dry matter per hill when dead, against 21 ozs. of dry matter when green, and another comparison made by carefully matching equal lengths of bine of various thicknesses gave a dry weight of 117 for the dead bine against 127 for the green bine.

[table]

   It will, however, be sufficient for the present to regard the dry weight of green and dead bine as the same, the more so as the unknown error thus introduced will only diminish the figures it is desired to estimate—the gross amount of nutrient material returned to the root. The composition of hop bine, green and ripe, may therefore be shown as the table above.

In the case of the leaves it is still more difficult to obtain the actual weight of dry matter per hill when dead; the degradation of the softer material is great, the leaves get rubbed and frayed and blown away wholesale, so that probably the best approximation will be obtained by assuming that the mineral matter remains constant, and calculating the proportions of Nitrogen, Phosphoric Acid, and Potash on this basis. The following table shows the composition of green and dead hop leaves worked out in this way :—

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By combining the figures for bine and leaves the following results are obtained, showing the amount of material per

Material in Bine and Leaves, lbs. per Acre.

[table]

acre in the bine and leaves in the green and in the dead state, the difference representing the amount of material returned to the root of the plant.

   From the foregoing results the distribution of the useful constituents of the hop crop may be deduced as follows :

Material in Hop Crop, lbs. per Acre.

[table]

It is thus seen that by allowing the bine and leaves to ripen instead of removing them at picking time, more than half of the nitrogen, five-sixths of the potash, and half the phosphoric acid they contain goes back to the root; amounts which are roughly one quarter, one third, and one quarter respectively of the whole material taken by the plant from the soil during the year's growth of the plant.

It is noticeable that the lime, which may be regarded as material of little value and easily obtained from the soil, is not returned to the root, but is wholly shed with the dead bine and leaves.

   The source and ultimate destination of the various nutrient materials are shown graphically in the diagram, on which the single column above the central line represents the quantities of Nitrogen, Lime, Potash, and Phosphoric Acid that are contained in the hops and sold; and the pairs of columns below represent the same materials in the leaf and bine, the left hand column in each case showing the disr tribution between leaf and bine at picking time and the right hand column the final division between the rootstock and the dead matter.

   Though the gross amounts of nutrient material thus retained are not great, being represented approximately byI cwt. of sulphate of ammonia, 2 cwt. of kainit, and ^ cwt. of superphosphate, this quantity of manure would by no means be so efficacious as the material which is in the plnat and wholly ready for use when wanted. At the same time these materials are doubtless accompanied by a considerable amount of carbohydrate reserve, withdrawn from the leaves and bine in a similar way. It is difficult to estimate this migration, as the carbohydrate reserve in the green bine does not appear to be in a form that admits of ready estimation.

Diagram showing Source and Ultimate Destination of Nutrient Materials of the Hop Plant.

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   The losses that arise in a practical way from the practice of cutting the bine grown upon poles is clear from the results obtained in the garden at Wye, where one section was in poles in 1897 and 1898, and was changed to pole and string work in 1899 and 1900. Thus the bine was cut at harvest in 1897 and 1898, and would affect, if at all, the crops of 1898 and 1899. The following table shows the actual crops obtained on the plot in question, together with the average of the crops upon the neighbouring plots where some other system of training was followed; the last column shows the crop on the plot in question calculated as a percentage of this average crop of the garden.

[table]

In 1898 and 1899 the plot where the bine had been cut at the previous harvest yielded only a little over 80 per cent, of the average yield of the neighbouring plots, whereas in 1897 and 1900 the same plot, but with the bine not cut at the previous harvest, yielded more than 93 per cent, of the average crop.

   The effect of cutting the bine is very marked, for on each occasion it has depressed the crop in the following season by about 10 per cent, of the general yield of the garden.

   From a consideration both of analyses of the green and dead hop plant and of field experiments it is evident that a valuable amount of nutrient matter will be retained by the permanent root if the bine and leaves are allowed to ripen before they are separated from the stock. A considerable increase of crop will be obtained by growing hops upon some system of training that dispenses with the necessity of cutting the bine when the hops are picked.

A. D. Hall , Agriculture, Volume 7, http://books.google.com/books?id=YtFFAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA471&lpg=PA471&dq=growing+hops+the+old+fashioned+way&source=bl&ots=xe0f4gUsgH&sig=QGB0-bIcoDbNDhU9XtP0BIy79Zs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=8NdMUdPxCoGuigK24IGQAQ&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=growing%20hops%20the%20old%20fashioned%20way&f=false


http://byo.com/blogs/brew-school


An oast, oast house or hop kiln is a building designed for kilning (drying) hops as part of the brewing process. They can be found in most hop-growing (and former hop-growing) areas and are often good examples of vernacular architecture. Many redundant oasts have been converted into houses.

They consist of two or three storeys on which the hops were spread out to be dried by hot air from a wood or charcoal-fired kiln at the bottom. The drying floors were thin and perforated to permit the heat to pass through it and escape through a cowl in the roof which turned with the wind. The freshly picked hops from the fields were raked in to dry and then raked out to cool before being bagged up and sent to the brewery. The Kentish dialect word kell was sometimes used for kilns ("The oast has three kells.") and sometimes to mean the oast itself ("Take this lunchbox to your father, he's working in the kell."). The word oast itself also means "kiln".[1]

The earliest surviving oast house is that at Cranbrook near Tunbridge Wells which dates to 1750 but the process is documented from soon after the introduction of hops into England in the early 16th century. Early oast houses were simply adapted barns but, by the early 19th century, the distinctive circular buildings with conical roofs had been developed in response to the increased demand for beer. Square oast houses appeared early in the 20th century as they were found to be easier to build. In the 1930s, the cowls were replaced by louvred openings as electric fans and diesel oil ovens were employed.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oast_house

See Beaumont Hop House in Hartland

http://www.madisontourism.com/trail_hop.pdf

http://www.archives.nysed.gov/apt/magazine/archivesmag_fall06.pdf

Hop barns

An Oast house, a conical, pyramid hop house in Kent.

Also known as hop houses or hop kilns, hop barns were very common in areas of the United States where hops were grown. Hop barns were so common it was said that "every other farm" had one. In New York state's "hop belt" numerous hop barns were constructed between the early 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Ostego, Chenango, Madison, Oneida, Montgomery and Schoharie Counties were the primary areas contained within the hop belt. As hops production basically dwindled down to only Washington state, in the U.S., the remaining hop houses elsewhere have begun to disappear. Defunct hop kilns are found in areas where hops production is still ongoing, in Kent, England, for instance.

Design

The design of hop houses changed significantly over time, as did the area hops were grown in. In New York, for instance, early hop barns were low with some ventilation. Later hop barns evolved into taller, more narrow buildings, often topped with a cupola over the drying kiln area. Later in the history of New York hops production, with farmers focused on more efficient means of production, pyramid shaped barns were built, eventually evolving into multi-pyramid hop barns.


A short history of hops source: https://zythophile.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/a-short-history-of-hops/  Posted on by

One of the great unanswered questions in the history of beer is why it took 9,000 years or so after brewing began for brewers to start using hops.

Today there are very few beers made without hops. They give beer flavour and, most importantly, they keep it from going off. The shelf life for unhopped ale can be as short as a fortnight or so before it starts to spoil and sour. Hopped beer can last for years. But it took many millennia for brewers to discover this, though they had been using a huge range of other plants to flavour their ale in the meanwhile: the bushy, aromatic moorland shrub bog myrtle, for example, the grassland weed yarrow, the hedgerow plant ground-ivy, even rosemary and sage.

The first documented link between hops and brewing comes from Picardy in Northern France, in 822, where Abbot Adalhard of the Benedictine monastery of Corbie, in the Somme valley near Amiens, wrote a series of statutes on how the abbey should be run. The many rules covered areas such as the duties of the abbey’s tenants, which included gathering of firewood and also of hops – implying wild hops, rather than cultivated ones. Adalhard also said that a tithe (or tenth) of all the malt that came in should be given to the porter of the monastery, and the same with the hops. If this did not supply enough hops, the porter should take steps to get more from elsewhere to make sufficient beer for himself: “De humlone … decima ei portio … detur. Si hoc ei non sufficit, ipse … sibi adquirat unde ad cervisas suas faciendas sufficienter habeat.”

It is important that the Corbie statutes should link hops with beer brewing, because hops had other uses they might have been collected for: to make dyes, for example (brown dye from hop sap and yellow dye from the leaves and cones). The stems can also be used to make ropes, sacking and paper. Thus any mentions in old documents of hops being collected from the wild, or even cultivated, does not mean automatically that the hops were going into beer

But Adalhard’s statutes do not say whether the hops were being used to preserve the beer, or merely to flavour it (the way brewers today dry-hop their beers). Proof that hops were being used the way they are today, as a preservative, does not come for three more centuries, at another Benedictine establishment at Rupertsberg, near Bingen, in the Rhineland. About 1150, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), mystical philosopher and healer, published a book called Physica Sacra, which translates best as “The Natural World”. Book I, Chapter 61, “De Hoppho”, or “Concerning the hop”, says of the plant: “It is warm and dry, and has a moderate moisture, and is not very useful in benefiting man, because it makes melancholy grow in man and makes the soul of man sad, and weighs down his inner organs. But yet as a result of its own bitterness it keeps some putrefactions from drinks, to which it may be added, so that they may last so much longer.”

By itself this does not prove hops were used in beer, just “in drinks” (in potibus in Hildegard’s original Latin). But in a later chapter, on the ash tree, the abbess wrote: “If you also wish to make beer from oats without hops, but just with grusz [gruit], you should boil it after adding a very large number of ash leaves. That type of beer purges the stomach of the drinker, and renders his heart [literally ‘chest’ or ‘breast’] light and joyous.” Clearly Hildegard knew about brewing beer with hops. The passage also suggests that Hildegard knew about boiling wort, without which just adding hops is not much help in keeping away “putrefactions”.

What probably kept the usefulness of hops from being discovered for so long is that the bittering, preserving resins in hop cones are not very soluble, and the hops need boiling for a long time, around 90 minutes, for what is called isomerisation – the physical change in the hop acids to a more soluble form of the molecule – to take place. Nobody would have boiled hops that long, and thus discovered the isomerisation, without a prior good reason (it takes a lot of fuel, a precious commodity when you have to gather wood by hand, to boil quantities of water for an hour and a half). How was it found out that a good long boil improved both the flavouring and the preserving ability of hops? One possibility is that a dyer, boiling hops to dye cloth, made the discovery that the dye water had a pleasant bitter taste, and told her friend the brewer. But this is just a guess.

When exactly hops began to be cultivated for putting into beer, rather than just being gathered wild from forests, is surprisingly unclear. German sources today claim that hop gardens appear in records dating from the second half of the ninth century in and around Hallertau, in Bavaria, Southern Germany, which is still the world’s largest single hop-growing area. However, they do not specify exact documents in which these hop gardens are mentioned, which makes it impossible to rely on their assertions. The best evidence seems to be that commercial hop cultivation happened in Northern Germany first, and not until the 1100s or 1200s, feeding the breweries of the Hansa trading towns, which were exporting hopped beer from at least the 13th century onwards. (Merchant beer brewers in North German cities eventually became rich enough to join the local aristocracy, something not found in Britain until the 18th century).

The buyers of this beer brewed in cities such as Hamburg and Bremen included the richer inhabitants of Flanders and Holland. Local brewers in the Low Countries reacted by brewing hopped beer themselves, and by the 1360s or thereabouts Dutch towns were growing hops to supply their brewers. From around 1390 brewing of hopped beer took off in Holland, with Flanders following a decade or so later.

The first import of Low Countries “beere” into England seems to have come in 1362/63, when James Dodynessone of Amsterdam paid a toll on beer at Great Yarmouth in 1361-62. (There is a reference in the Norwich Leet Roll of 1288-9 to cervesiam flandrensem, or Flanders ale, which “Ricardo Somer”, Richard Summer, was fined 2s for selling occulte, secretly, thus depriving the bailiffs of money due on the ale of ale. However, this was probably too early to be a hopped brew). Further mentions of beer imports followed, gradually increasing in frequency: Henry Vandale (a man with a Dutch-sounding surname) bought four barrels of “beere” in London in 1372. A ship’s captain named Clays Johanson arrived in London in July 1384 with a cargo that included earthenware dishes, Holland linen cloth and beer. Other records of beer imports in the late 14th century come from Newcastle, Scarborough, Lynn, Ipswich, Winchelsea and Sussex. At the end of the 14th century Great Yarmouth was importing 40 to 80 barrels of beer a month, while in 1397-8 Colchester imported 100 barrels of beer.

However, the first brewer of the hopped drink in England does not appear until 1412, when Agnes Smyth, “Dutchman” (sic – and “Dutch” meant “German” at this time, rather than “person from the Netherlands”), was making beer in Colchester. The English beer trade seems to have stayed in the hands of immigrants from the Low Countries for the next century, as the conservative-minded natives stuck to their unhopped ale. As a result, the first beer brewers in England apparently imported all their hops from across the Channel, with no attempt to cultivate the plant here until early in the 16th century.

When exactly the first hops were grown in England is, again, uncertain – dates given by different writers range from 1511 to 1524. But the place where they were first planted was almost certainly Kent: one tradition says the first hop garden was established in 1520, in the parish of Westbere, near Canterbury. By 1569 English hop cultivation was sufficiently advanced for one agricultural writer, the Sussex landowner Leonard Mascall (or Mascal), to claim that “one pound of our hoppes dried and ordered will go as far as two poundes of the best hoppe that come from overseas.”

Five years later, in 1574 the first book in English solely devoted to hop growing was written by a 36-year-old Kentish landowner called Reynolde (or Reginald) Scot. His A Perfite Platform of a Hoppe Garden, filled with woodcut illustrations to aid the less literate Elizabethan farmer, went to three editions in four years. By 1577 hop cultivation had reached Herefordshire, where a “hoppyarde” was running at Whitbourne, near Bromyard. The differences found in the terminology used between the West Midlands and South East England – hop yard for hop garden, hop kiln for oast house, crib rather than bin for the container the hops are picked into, for example – suggest hop-growing was started independently in the two places.

In 1655 hops were being grown in at least 14 English counties, including Somerset, though Kent accounted for a third of the total crop. The use of bitter hop alternatives such as broom and wormwood was banned by Parliament in 1710 to ensure brewers did not try to avoid the new hop tax of a penny a pound. However, although it was reckoned an acre of hops would bring in more profit than 50 acres of arable land in a good year, the hop farmer’s life was more insecure than any other branch of agriculture. An old Kentish rhyme said of hops: “First the flea, then the fly/Then the mould, then they die.” Annual yields swung wildly: 1.57 million pounds of hops in 1726, for example, 20.39 million pounds the following year.

John Banister of Horton Kirby in Kent, in a book called Synopsis of Husbandry, published in 1799, identified a long list of different types of hop, including “the Flemish, the Canterbury, the Goldings, the Farnham etc.” Goldings is still regarded as one of the great English hops, though it now comes in several varieties: it was supposedly propagated from an especially fine plant spotted not long before 1790 by Mr Golding of Malling, who was still alive in 1798.

Stourbridge fair, just south of Cambridge, was the biggest hop mart in England in the late 17th and early 18th century. By the late 18th century Southwark, in London, which was handily placed on the road up from Canterbury, had become the country’s most important hop centre. (When “three-letter” telephone exchange names were introduced in London before the First World War, Southwark’s was HOP – even today, many Southwark telephone numbers still contain the numerical equivalent, 407.)

There were 35,000 acres of hops under cultivation in Britain by 1800, and 50,000 by 1850. Hop farming hit a peak of 71,789 acres in 1878, with hops grown in 40 English counties, though the tiny Scottish hop industry, which operated in just five counties, disappeared in 1871, and Welsh hop growing ended in 1874. Hops from Farnham in Surrey were regarded as the finest, followed by Kentish hops, though some brewers paid a premium for North-Clay hops grown on the stiff clays of Nottinghamshire, which were reckoned to be the best for strong keeping-beers.

New varieties of hop were still appearing: Bramling, an “early” variety of Goldings, named after the hamlet near Canterbury where it was discovered, was introduced about 1865. According to later writers, Richard Fuggle of Brenchley, Kent unveiled the hop variety that still bears his name, the second great English hop, in 1875, though this has since been thrown into doubt. The first Fuggles plant supposedly originated from a seed thrown out with the crumbs of a hop-picker’s lunch at George Stace’s farm in Horsmonden, Kent in 1861. A book on English hops published in 1919 listed more than 30 different hop types.

However, tastes were changing away towards sweeter, less-hopped milds, and at the same time imports of hops from Europe and the United States were increasing. total hop acreage plunged to 51,000 in 1900, a drop of almost 30 per cent in 22 years. The restrictions on brewing of the First World War also hit the industry, and by 1918 there were just 16,000 acres under cultivation.

At the beginning of the 20th century it was realised that the soft resin content in hops, that is, the part that contains the alpha acids, which was first measured in 1888, was the best test of the keeping qualities they would bring to beer. Gradually brewers began to buy hops on their soft resin content, and growers began to plant varieties that contained a higher proportion of soft resins.

Researchers at Wye College, near Ashford in Kent cross-bred English hop varieties with native American hops, which generally have twice the alpha acid content of Europeans, but a “fruity” aroma English brewers had looked down upon. One, Bramling Cross, born in 1927 of a female Bramling hop with a wild male hop from Manitoba in Canada, has become appreciated for its “blackcurrant” nose. Others have had the fruitiness bred out, and the high alpha acid kept in. Many hop varieties in use today in Europe, the United States and Australia are based on hops first developed at Wye College.

However higher alpha acid content in the hops means fewer hops are needed in the beer means fewer hops need be grown. Total hop cultivation in England in 1976 was 17,000 acres. By 1997 it was just 7,500 acres, with 2,400 acres in Kent, 2,300 in Herefordshire, 870 in Worcestershire, 300 in Sussex and tiny amounts in Surrey, Hampshire and Oxfordshire. In 2006 that total had dropped to only 2,400, just two per cent of the worldwide acreage.

Notes on a Fuggle: More light on the early history of a great hop source: https://zythophile.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/notes-on-a-fuggle-more-light-on-the-early-history-of-a-great-hop/

Myth 2: Hops were forbidden by Henry VI source:  https://zythophile.wordpress.com/false-ale-quotes/myth-two-hops-were-forbidden-by-henry-vi/

No they weren’t, and nor were there ever any petitions against hops to Parliament, nor were any general bans on brewers using hops made by Henry VIII, Parliament, the mayors and corporations of Coventry or Norwich, or anybody else.

What did happen was that at different times and in different places between approximately 1440 and 1540 attempts were made to maintain the distinction between (unhopped) ale, the only malted cereal drink made in England before the last quarter of the 14th century, and beer, the hopped malted cereal drink brought into this country by immigrants from the Low Countries and Germany. Various authorities thus forbad the ale brewers – who remained an entirely separate group of men and women from the beer brewers until at least the reign of James I in the 17th century – from putting hops into their ale. Beer brewers, however, were allowed to hop away.

Henry VIII’s ale brewer at Eltham Palace, near London, for example, was apparently instructed in a document dating from January 1530, that was attempting to reform sundry “misuses” in the royal household, not to use hops or brimstone (which would have been used for fumigating casks) when brewing. Similarly the regulations laid down by the Treasurer of the Household at another of Henry’s palaces, Hampton Court, in 1539 included a rule that the ale brewers “put neither Hoppes nor Brimstone in their ale in the pipes [120-gallon casks], soe that it may be found good, wholesome and perfect stuff and worth the King’s money.”

But Henry did not “outlaw the use of hops”, as, for example, Ian Hornsey claims in his A History of Beer and Brewing – quite the opposite. As well as an ale brewer, Bluff King Hal had a beer brewer, to supply the royal household with the hopped drink. The royal beer brewer’s work was important enough for him to be given special privileges. John Pope, Henry VIII’s personal beer brewer in 1542, received permission to have as many as 12 “persons born out of the King’s Dominions” (meaning, almost certainly, beer-brewing experts from the Low Countries) working in his household “for the said feat of beer-brewing”, even though Tudor law said no Englishman should employ more than four foreigners at a time. The Tudor army ran on hopped beer when it was campaigning: in July 1544, for example, during an English invasion of Picardy, the commander of Henry VIII’s forces complained that his army was so short of supplies they had drunk no beer “these last ten days, which is strange for English men to do with so little grudging.”

Several municipalities also passed laws forbidding the ale brewers to use hops, but again, it was specifically only the ale brewers who were affected, and beer brewers were still free to hop their drink. In Norwich in March 1471 the “common ale brewers of this citi”, who were evidently copying the habits of the beer brewers, were ordered by the mayor and council not to brew “nowther with hoppes nor gawle [sweet gale] nor noon other thing … upon peyne of grevous punysshment.”

In 1483 the London ale brewers, again trying to maintain the difference between (unhopped) ale and (hopped) beer, persuaded the city authorities to rule that in order for ale to be brewed in “the good and holesome manner of bruying of ale of old tyme used”, no one should “put in any ale or licour [water] whereof ale shal be made or in the wirkyng and bruying of any maner of ale any hoppes, herbes or other like thing but only licour, malt and yeste.” But beer brewing was not banned: only 10 years later the beer brewers of London received permission from the City authorities to set up their own guild or fellowship of “berebruers” to regulate the craft. Similarly the mayor and aldermen of Coventry forbad the use of hops in “all” (ale), not beer, in 1520.

Unfortunately in the 17th century writers began to assert the existence of “petitions”, particularly “petitions to Parliament” against the hop. Walter Blith, for example, writing in 1653 in a book on agriculture called The English Improver Improved, claimed that: “It is not many years since the famous City of London petitioned against two nuisances, and these were Newcastle coals, in regard of their stench, &c, and hops, in regard they would spoil the taste of drink and endanger the people.”

A decade later, in 1662, Thomas Fuller in The History of the Worthies of England, wrote that hops were “not so bitter in themselves, as others have been against them, accusing hops for noxious; preserving beer, but destroying those who drink it. These plead the petition presented in parliament in the reign of King Henry the Sixth, against the wicked weed called hops.”

Dozens – possibly hundreds – of writers since have repeated Fuller’s claim that there was a Parliamentary petition against the use of hops. Others have tried to stop the tide by pointing out the complete lack of evidence to back Fuller’s assertion: in 1843, for example, 164 years ago, Albert Wat wrote in a book published by the British Museum that “no record of the prohibition [on using hops] has been found, and the petition does not appear on the Rolls of Parliament.”

That did not prevent Frederick Hackwood, for example, insisting in 1911, in Inns, Ales and Drinking Customs of Old England. “Henry VI had prohibited the brewers from using hops, and the prohibition was repeated by Henry VIII.” But Hackwood was more than wrong: he was 180 degrees out. As we have seen, Henry VIII’s household, and his army, drank hopped beer, and Henry VI was also a good friend of the beer brewers: in 1436, when the ruler of much of the Low Countries, the Duke of Burgundy, was at war with England, nationalistic Englishmen began circulating rumours in London that the “biere” brewed by Hollanders and Selanders was harmful and unhealthy. Henry VI ordered the sheriffs of London “to make proclamation for all brewers of biere within their bailiwick to continue to exercise their art as hitherto, notwithstanding the malevolent attempts that were being made to prevent natives of Holland and Seland and others who occupied themselves in brewing the drink called biere from continuing their trade, on the ground that such drink was poisonous and not fit to drink, and caused drunkenness, whereas it was a wholesome drink, especially in summer time.”

In common with other types of urban myth, the “ban on hops” appears in print with many variations: a book called A General View of the Agriculture of the County of Somerset , published in 1794, said that “a petition was presented against [the hop] to parliament, in the year 1528, in which it is stigmatised as a most pernicious and wicked weed; and the national vengeance was requested to be hurled at the heads of those who should propagate it on their lands.”

The magazine Notes and Queries, in an entry in the edition for September 27 1856, turns this into a claim that ” in 1528 [hops’] use was prohibited under severe penalties.” But as with the “petition to Parliament” said to have been made in Henry VI’s reign, no trace of this petition, or ban, appears in the Parliamentary records. The phrase “a pernicious and wicked weed” turns up again, reversed, as “a wicked and pernicious weed” in 1805 in a report on an alleged ban on hops in Shrewsbury in 1519, and later writers have seized and paraded it: Charles Bamforth in Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing in 1998, for example. But there is no known contemporary Tudor document that uses the phrase.

It took three centuries from the first arrival of hopped beer in England for the drink to wipe out its unhopped rival, and for ale and beer to become, almost synonyms (though beer, even in the 19th century, frequently meant a hoppier drink than ale). It makes a good story to write about attacks on hops as “wicked” and bans by kings and parliaments. Alas, the actual evidence does not back up the stories.

Six more myths about hops source: https://zythophile.wordpress.com/false-ale-quotes/six-more-myths-about-hops/

“Jewish exiles in captivity in Babylon (in 597 BC) drank hopped ale as a defence against leprosy”

They did not. The original Hebrew description (from the fourth century AD) of the herb used in the anti-leprosy drink was “cuscuta of the hizmé shrub”, that is, a Middle Eastern climbing plant of the dodder family. By the 11th century, rabbinical commentary on the Talmud was talking about hops, probably because these were more familiar to European Jews than cuscuta. In any case what was drunk to guard against leprosy was shekar flavoured with cuscuta, shekar being a Hebrew word which meant any strong drink, not beer specifically (although in Akkadian, a related Semitic language spoken by the conquerors of Sumer, the word sikar translated Sumerian kash, beer). Shekar became, via the Bible and its Greek and Latin translations, and then French, the source of the English word cider.

“Pliny, in his Natural History, says the Germans preserved ale with hops.”

No he didn’t. Pliny mentions “lupus salictarum”, or “willow wolf”, by which we presume he meant hops (the Italian for hop is still lupulo), only as a “delicacy” for eating, like samphire and fennel, not as a flavouring for ale.

“The first reference to hops in England is a document from AD 622 by the Abbot of Corvey.”

Two problems here – 622 is a typographical error for 822, and the abbey in question was at Corbie, in the Somme valley near Amiens.

“References are made to humlonaria, or hop gardens, given to the Abbey of St Denis [in Paris] by King Pepin in 768.”

The deed in question names lands in the forest of Iveline in France, near Paris (today the forêt de Rambouillet), that the king was granting to the abbey, which among “diversa loca” included one called Humlonariae. This is a place-name, and does not mean “hop gardens”, though it does suggest somewhere noted for wild hops.

“The Abbess Hildegarde of Bingen wrote about the addition of hops to beer in 1079.”

This canard is more than 100 years old, and despite an attempt by the American beer writer John P Arnold to kill it off in 1911 it was still being repeated in HS Corran’s A History of Brewing, published in 1975. The Abbess was not yet alive in 1079: she was born in 1098 and died in 1179. She did, however, mention hops in her book Physica Sacra, written about 1150 or 1160. There are also several versions of the name of her religious settlement near Bingen, in Germany: the usual German version is Rupertsberg.

“Hops were used for flavouring ale in pre-Norman England, and Himbleton in Worcestershire means ‘hop town’.”

The archaeological evidence that hops grew wild in England before the 15th century is pretty good: pollen remains dating back to the Neolithic and before from what were probably wild hops have been found at Thatcham in Berkshire and Urswick in Cumbria. The authorities are split, however: Richard Mabey in Flora Britannica says the hop is “almost certainly a native”, while the botanist Roger Phillips believes the hops found growing today in hedges around England are there “probably because it has often escaped from cultivation”, rather than as wild survivors.

Old English had the word hymele, which was the same as the word used for hop in Medieval Latin, humulus (and the modern Flemish dialect word hommel). However, hymele “may refer to the hop plant or to some similar [climbing] plant”, the Oxford Dictionary of Place Names says. A 10th or 11th-century Anglo-Saxon vocabulary glosses the Latin “uoluula”, that is, convolvulus, bindweed, as “hymele”, and the word hymele was also used for bryony, another climbing plant with hop-like lobed leaves. Even hemlock seems to mean “hymele-like”, perhaps because both it and bryony are extremely poisonous. The best we can say of Himbleton, therefore, is that it means “tun (or homestead) where hymele grows”.

If hymele meant hops, there are at least three places in England named after the plant: Himbleton; Himley, in Staffordshire (the grove or wood where hymele grows); and Humbleton, East Yorkshire, where the first element is the Old Norwegian humli, which did mean hop. However, the East Yorkshire name may have been altered from an original Old English hymele by Scandinavian settlers.

Even if hops did grow here before the Normans came, there is no record of hops, cultivated or otherwise, used for brewing in Britain before the 15th century. There was an ancient form of rent called “hopgavel” or “hoppegavel” in pre-Conquest Kent, which it has been suggested, indicated that hops were cultivated for brewing in the county before 1066. But hoppe in Middle English could also mean the seedpod of the flax plant, and hoppegavel is defined in one Middle English dictionary as a rent paid in flax pods.

There is the curious case of the Graveney Boat, which was abandoned at Graveney in Kent about 950 AD and discovered by archaeologists in the early 1970s. Investigations showed clearly that it had been either loaded or unloaded with hops just before it was abandoned: there were remains of hop flowers and hop nuts in the boat and on the brushwood platform that lay beside the boat.

However, in the absence of any evidence on what those hops were used for, the Graveney boat must remain an anomaly. The sometimes violent reaction of 15th and 16th century English ale brewers and drinkers against the use of hops by beer brewers from the Low Countries shows that if hops had once been put into ale for flavouring in these islands, their use had been forgotten. Yet if hops had ever been used by British brewers before 1400, the advantages they gave to the product, particularly in extending the life of the drink, would surely have meant hops would have been already widespread here long before Dutch and Flemish beer brewers began to arrive.

Finally, if the Old English had a word for hop, hymele, it would be odd for Medieval English to have to adopt the Middle Dutch word hoppe for the name of the plant. It seems much more likely this was a new plant to the English, which needed a new name.