Thursday, 19 August 2010

18th Century hop varieties

Yes. Finding that reference to Colegate hops has sent me cascading through the centuries at Google Books. One of the things I found was this snippet on late 18th century hop varieties.

"The VARIETIES of the hop, which are now found in cultivation, here, have either been imported with the art of cultivating them (supposing the English culture to be of foreign growth;) or have been culled from the native or wild hop, as bitterness and flavor directed ; or have been raised, by art, from the seeds of the wild, or the cultivated kinds, and improved by further cultivation; or have been selected from hops in a state of culture, by propagating from particular hills, of superior quality and productiveness, marked by attentive managers; especially, perhaps, in an unproductive season.

In West Kent, there are several varieties, in cultivation. The "Canterbury" is the favorite sort, and is the most cultivated : it is a "white-bine"* hop, of the middle size. The "Golding" has, of late years, been in high repute. It is a sub-variety, I understand, of the Canterbury; which was raised by a man still living (1790) Mr. Golding, of the Mailing quarter of the district; who observing, in his grounds, a hill of extraordinary quality and productiveness, marked it, propagated from it, and furnished his neighbours with cuttings, from its produce. The "Flemish Red-bine" is an early ripening hop, and of a large size ; but is deficient in "condition." The "Late-ripe Red-bine" is also large, but is likewise weak: " a mere wild hop." "Rufflers," "Apple Puddings," &c. &c. are inferior sorts ; and are chiefly cultivated in the Weald.

* "Bine" (probably a corruption of Bind) is the provincial term for the stem of the hop; and likewise for the plant, collectively, except the fruit, or " hops." It is perfectly analogous with Vine; when applied generally to climbing plants; as white vine, black vine, wild vine, grape vine, hop vine."
"The rural economy of the southern counties, vol 1", by Marshall, 1798, pages 182-184.

Goldings. They've been around since god was in short kecks. I wonder how many other commercial plant varieties have been knocking around so long?

Some of the others have wonderfully evocative names: Rufflers, Apple Puddings. I wonder when they were last grown?


Kristen England said...

The Encircling Hop is a great little book about the history of kenttish hops and hop culture. Lots of stuff on the breeding or start at wye if i remember.

Thomas Barnes said...

My guess is that Hallertauer Mittelfrueh and its ilk are probably very old. American Cluster hops are also fairly old, but perhaps not as old as Goldings.