Monday, 10 November 2014

The use of hop substitutes

Hop substitues - what a fun topic. I think I've even got some numbers somewhere. Start reading while T take a look.

There were plenty of accusations of the first half of the 19th century - when Britian effectively had a Reinheitsgebot - about the use of all sorts of noxious substance to bitter. After 1880, when tax was shifted from malt and hops to beer, their use was allowed. As long as it wasn't harmful to human health. But they never really did take off. This explains why.

At last week's sitting of the Beer Materials Committee Dr. Edward R. Moritz, the scientific adviser to the Country Brewers' Society, gave some evidence as to the use of substitutes for hops the manufacture of beer. Speaking as a brewers chemist, he said that substitutes were used to some extent in the year of the hop famine, about 1880 or 1881, but since then he had never known any hop substitutes to be used. It was simply the prohibitive price of hops that led to the use of hop substitutes. Hops had preservative influence on the beer, and substitutes, such as gentian, camomile, or quassia had not that preservative effect, and that was probably the principal reason why brewers would not use substitutes when they could get hops anything like reasonable price. Although did not personally attach very much weight to the food value of beer, still he wished to point out that in Pilsener beers, which were the favourite foreign beers imported into this country, the proportion of food value to alcohol was lower than it was in the light ales of Bass and Allsopp. No brewer doing competitive trade could use substitutes, because the beer was unmarketable compared with beer bittered with hops — the first-named being harsh bitter. So long as the beer was good flavour, bright, and kept well, the public were thoroughly satisfied with light beers. As to tied houses, owing to the high prices asked for public-houses, there were great brewers who had determined this year not to add to their tied houses. All the brewers examined before the Committee had said that in dealing with very fine qualities of English barley, the question of substitutes did not come in much, but they could not deal with malt made from second and third grade barleys unless brewed with substitutes or a great deal of foreign malt.
Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Saturday 28 May 1898, page 7.

I can't remember coming across hop substitutes of preparations of hops very often, There are a few Whibread logs from WW II where Lupulin appears, which I guess is some sort of hop preparation.

This gives an idea of just how few hop substitutes or preparations were used compared to hops:

Hop and hop substitutes 1902 - 1932
year hops preparations of hops hop substitutes
1902 647,547 173
1905 556,793 439
1910 551,248 36
1913 561,709 169
1914 559,423 174
1915 467,176 99
1918 263,386 38
1919 367,707 152
1920 503,140 132 116
1922 398,506 160 34
1924 350,428 54 44
1926 355,375 79 28
1928 330,662 119 38
1930 307,289 101 91
1931 277,406 91 59
1932 219,587 72 38
1902 - 1913; 1915 - 1919 Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 111
1914; 1932 - 1953 Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 62

In the 19th century the preservative effect of hops was one of the principal reasons for their use. Flavour was mostly a seconday factor.

I like the bit about tied houses. There was a scramble to buy up pubs in the 1890's as legislation began to restrict the number of licences. The debt breweries incurred buying up pubs brought many into financial difficulties in the first decade of the 20th century. And when the value of those pubs fell, many breweries had to restructure and reduce their capital by marking down their shares, sometimes to as little as 10% of their original value.

And finally we're told that Pilsener was the most popular imported beer. It's the beginning of the rise of Pale Lager in Britain.

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