Wednesday, 8 September 2010

American hops in British beer

Innovation is a wonderful thing. Yes indeedy. Truly wonderful. It heartens me to see British brewers adopting exotic ingredients like American hops.  A brilliant innovation. I wonder who was first to do it? And when?

Take a butchers at this. The bottom left-hand corner in particular. It's a Barclay Perkins brewing log from 1848.

The bottom left. That's where the hops are listed. The next to last line reads

Amn. 1846 428

American hops, from the 1846 crop. Which means they were almost certainly grown in New York state.

Innovative chaps, those Victorians.

On a totally unrelated note, I wonder if you can guess what I'm currently working on. Behind the scenes. My recent posts should give it away. It's obvious to me.


StuartP said...

Is it a time machine?

Oblivious said...

But where British brewer not importing brewing ingredients from all over the world in the 19th century?

An these hops would have been a British or European variety an not the C hops that have become popularly in the last twenty years?

Ron Pattinson said...

Stuart, unfortunately not.

Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, yes, in the later 19th century they imported hops and malt from all over. This is early for American hops.

As to which variety they were, I've no idea. I know that later, when American hop-growing moved to the west coast, cluster was the main variety. Anyone know what they used to grew in New York state?

Oblivious said...

It appears the was a very famous hop called "Otsego County hop " it probably a cross between an English/German and a wild American hop

Here is a nice article about historical hop growing in New york

Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, thanks for the link.

Barm said...

Is it the 1840 Style Guide?

I think it's a bit off to argue that using C-hops in bitter is not innovative just because British brewers have been using American hops for a long time. You have so many sources saying that the US hops were used for their high alpha acid content, but the flavour was not considered pleasant.

What the US brewers have done in the last 30 years and the UK micros more recently is get people to appreciate the peculiar flavours of US hops. I think that is a genuine shift in taste, at least in the UK.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, I was just pointing out that American hops per se are nothing new in British brewing.

What's struck me about British brewing is the ecelctic nature of the ingredients. Already in the 19th century you see "Bavarians". Then in the 20th century Hallertau, Poperinge, Saaz. All sorts of continental hops not yusally associated with Brish-style beers.

dave said...

English Cluster, Grape Hops, and Pompey... though that is taken from an 1871 book.

Barm said...

I was just pointing out that American hops per se are nothing new in British brewing.

No, that's not new. But using them because of their particular flavour, not in spite of it, is new. That's quite an important distinction, I think.