Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Seedless hops

Some discussions never seem to end. Like whether seedless hops are better than seeded ones. Today's item is plucked from a discussion at the Institute of Brewing in 1907. British brewers and hop-growers still haven't worked out which they think is best. Unlike on the Continent, where male hops were rooted up yonks ago.

But that's all just an aside. I've picked this text for another reason. A brewer gives his citeria for selecting hops. And which varieties he prefers for which purpose. There's only one slight problem. I've never heard of two of the types he mentions: Colegates and Henhams. Colegate - I thought that was a type of toothpaste?

"Mr. P. K. Lemay, speaking as a practical brewer, said that he did not agree with the authors of the paper in the idea that the larger the hop, the better the quality. He well remembered when he first went to study hops, a large number of samples were put out for him and he was asked to pick out the best. He looked at the samples and found a fine large yellow hop with big seeds, and he naturally chose that. On turning over the sample to see what class of hop it was, he found it labelled "Flat-catcher," and the people with whom he was studying told him that that was often the case with brewers, they generally went for a big hop, which had a fine appearance and big seed, without taking into considering that these hops as a rule contained a comparatively small amount of resins and tannin. When purchasing English hops himself, he first of all divided the samples up into five classes, roughly as follows: (1) Goldings, for pale ale brewing, both for copper use and hopping down; (2) Fuggles, for copper use in mild ales and stouts; (3) Colegates, as a rule a hop rich in lupulin, but rank in flavour; very good copper hops for stouts; (4) Henhams and other varieties of large coarse hops, which from a brewing point of view would be a dear hop to buy; (5) Any class of hops showing mould or aphis blight, which to a brewer would be costly at any price. All classes of hops he found varied from season to season, and what would be considered good for hopping-down one year would be quite out of the question another. Brewers could not always depend on a certain class of hops for any one particular use. Speaking generally, the brewer required samples to show a good side, that is, whole hops, plenty of resins and tannin, and as little seed as possible, no mould or blight, cleanly picked, to be perfectly ripe, being rather on the deep yellow side than on the green, and to be of the required flavour for the quality of beer to be produced. The finest hops he had ever seen for flavour and lupulin were grown in Bavaria, and were seedless, and he was quite sure that in a few years the English brewer would recognise the brewing value of English seedless hops, and that a demand for these would at once create a supply, much to the benefit of the brewer, so far as quality was concerned, and also to that of the grower, so far as competition with his Continental rivals was concerned. He might also add that some six years ago he had a few Kentish sets sent to Hertfordshire, and that although there was no male hop amongst them, yet they still retained their seeds, although he must mention that these seeds were very small and empty, compared with the original ones. He had found the quality of the hops improve from year to year."
"Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 14", 1908, pages 335-336.

Mm. That's got me thinking about old hop varieties. A search has thrown up a few books on the subject. Something to read on the plane, perhaps.


Matt said...

I think Richard Boston in 'Beer and Skittles' and Christopher Hutt in 'The Death of the English Pub' both mention the distinction between the continued cultivation of the male hop plant in England and it being outlawed on the continent and predict the ban being extended here as a result of Britain joining the EU.

mentaldental said...

Ron, I can let you know a bit about Colegates, I think, except I am in Sweden and my books aren't. If no one chips in I will send you some info when I get home.

Barm said...

I don't think either of them predicted the English hop industry shrinking to a tenth of its previous size, though.

Gary Gillman said...

Colgates (the usual spelling I have seen) are mentioned in a number of sources going back to the early 1800's at least.


mentaldental said...

Ron, as promised a little information on Henham's and Colegate's.

H E Wright, Handybook for Brewers, 1907
Early Sorts: White's Early (delicate and shy cropper), Bramling (good compact cones), Amos' Early Bird (Bramling type, but earlier), Bennet's Early Seedling, Henhams's Jones' Hop, Hobbs' Early, Prolific, and Meophams. The quality is probably in the order given, the last two very inferior.
Late varieties--Grape Hops (cones appearing clustered, narrowish in proportion to the length and pointed). Colegates (long, narrow cones) are coarse, strong hops yielding heavy crops in the Weald of Kent and Susex, but not very rich in lupulin.

Clinch, English Hops, 1919
Henham's Jones's Hop [Early]. Attain a rather pretty golden colour when ripe, and is of a good size. Lupulin is scarce, but the flavour is fair. The bine is thin and pale in colour. This variety was raised by Mr Iden Henham, of East Peckham, Kent.
Colegate's Hops [Late]. These hops are long and narrow in form, and very late ripening. The branches are slender and the leaves deeply serrated. This variety is grown in the clay soils of Kent and Sussex. They were introduced about the year 1805 by Mr David Colegate, of Chevening, in Kent. They have almost gone out of cultivation.

H Lloyd Hind, Brewing Science and Practice, Vol 1, 1938
The Colgate, raised from a wild hop by Mr D. Colgate of Chevening in 1805, is a small narrow hop, square in section, with thin pale petals and a coarse flavour. It was the latest hop to ripen, frequently not being ready to pick until October, for which reason it was expensive to grow and has been practically abandoned. Really ripe samples were, however, of quite good quality.