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The Brewery, A short History of the Hop

Hops are of course vital to the production of beer, and at Wolf Brewery we seek out the best available as close as possible.

Historically use of the hop has been developed from a wild plant as ancient as history itself. Originally it was used medicinally in ancient egypt, accoring to heiroglyphics.Europeans later used it to treat liver complaints, of all things.The national hop association of england (NHAE) kindly allowed us to reptint this history of hops here, take a look at thier website for more interesting hop information. here

Find out more about hops on this brilliantly informative site

Ancient picture of Hop-pickers

The following timeline shows key points in the development of the Hop.

822 AD The first reference to hops is a document by the Abbot Adalhard of Corvey (Westphalia, Germany) releasing the millers from their duty of gathering hops and malt. Despite this early reference, hops did not come into general use in brewing until the end of the 15th Century, at which time the brewing techniques used in Flanders found their way to Britain.


Hops Growing Locally for Wolf Brewery

1450 AD The presence of hops in beer was accused of stirring up Jack Cade, a Kent man with the alias 'john Mortimer', to launch his ill-fated rebellion against corruption. Despite his hop- inspired victory over government forces at Sevenoaks and his alias's subsequent pardon from King Henry VI, this did not save Cade from being hunted down in his own name and mortally wounded by the Sheriff of Kent.


London hop pickers 194020's

1520 AD The weavers of Flanders settled in Kent to take advantage of that county's prosperous wool industry and brought with them new varieties of hops and the knowledge of how to use them effectively in beer. Several centuries passed between the introduction of hops into England and their acceptance in standard brewing technique.
Traditional Ales such as Burton Ale, which have been famous since the 13th Century, were still brewed without hops at the time of Henry VIII. ‘Ale’ at that time denoted strong, sweet brews of malted barley flavours with spices , herbs and bark of trees. The more recent drink of ‘beer’, which Henry VIII effectively outlawed by banning the use of hops in brewing, remained in abeyance until his son, Edward VI, passed special legislation in 1552 to permit the use of hops again by British brewers.

Sackwoman

1710 AD Duty was imposed on hops for the first time and bittering materials other than hops were excluded. Smuggling of hops became a valuable pastime.

1774 AD An Act was passed requiring the 'pockets' in which the hops were packed to be stencilled with the hop-grower's name, the year and where grown. At about this time, the famous English Golding hop was developed and greater emphasis was being placed on individual hop varieties.

1870 AD The area of hops under cultivation was almost 72,000 acres (29,000 hectares) with a host of new varieties being developed including the celebrated Fuggle, which was introduced as a commercial variety by Mr Richard Fuggle in 1875. Hops were grown in 53 counties including eight in Wales and five in Scotland as far north as Aberdeen.


Sackwoman and London Hop pickers Photographs courtesy of the Rural History Centre, University of Reading

1932 AD The Hops Marketing Board was introduced to exercise statutory control and ensure a sheltered, if unrealistic, market for producers However, in 1982 EC rules led to the disbanding of the Board and the introduction of independent Producer Groups for the marketing of English grown hops.

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1997 AD Mobile hop picking machinery is made available to English hop growers. England introduces 'dwarf' hops, developed by HRI at Wye with funding from England's hop growers and MAFF. 2001 AD In England, 150 hop farmers grow hops in a total of 1,974 hectares, spread across Hereford, Worcester, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and the South East.


Text with kind permission of the National Hops association of England

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