I was trying to recall when hop substitutes were legalised. I know it was before 1880. Just after the excise tax on hops was dropped, I think it was. 1860's or 1870's. If I remember, I'll look it up.
I have occasionally seen hop substitutes in logs. Whitbread used them in the 1940's, presumably because they couldn't get sufficient hops. It didn't last for long.
Hops, from a dietetic point of view, are a wholesome tonic bitter, but with decidedly narcotic properties; quassia is likewise a wholesome tonic bitter, with slight narcotic properties. Beer, therefore, in which the bitter is partially derived from quassia is quite as wholesome as if hops alone had been used in brewing it. Whether the quassia imparts as pleasant a flavour, is a matter for the consumer to decide. If he likes the flavour of quassia as well as that of hops he is not defrauded in any way when he buys beer bittered with quassia, it is just as wholesome, nutritious, and tonic, as the beer bittered with hops. The same quantity of the quassia beer will not make him quite so sleepy as the hop beer, but that can scarcely be considered a disadvantage. If, on the other hand, the consumer does not like the flavour imparted by quassia, so well as that imparted by hops, he can purchase his beer from a brewer who uses hops only, and he has thus the power in his own hands of compelling the brewer to use hops and not quassia, if he prefers the former.
This question of the substitution of other bitters for hops is often argued as if it was analogous to the admixture of chicory with coffee, but the resemblance is only superficial, for hops and other wholesome tonic bitters are of about the same average dietetic value, whereas chicory has none of the special and valuable properties of coffee, and its unacknowledged admixture with coffee is a distinct and palpable fraud.
The following is a list of the principal wholesome bitters which may be honestly substituted for a portion of the hops used in the copper. There is no known substance which can be substituted for hops in " dry hopping."
Quassia 1 lb. equal in bittering power to 16 lbs hops
Calyso 1 lb. equal in bittering power to 12 lbs hops
Chiretta 1 lb. equal in bittering power to 10 lbs hops
Gentian 1 lb. equal in bittering power to 7 lbs hops
Camomile flowers 1 lb. equal in bittering power to 5 lbs hops
Quassia, as I have already stated, is tonic and slightly narcotic
Calyso is a very wholesome bitter, non-narcotic and with a slight stimulating action on the liver. Beer brewed with a proportion of Calyso is more wholesome to most people than that in which hops only have been used.
Chiretta, a very wholesome liver tonic, perfectly nonnarcotic
Gentian, a wholesome tonic bitter.
Camomile flowers are a wholesome tonic, with slightly aperient properties.
Notwithstanding the wholesome character of the above substances, I cannot advise brewers to use them when hops are at a moderate price. The public undoubtedly prefer a beer bittered with good hops only, and therefore brewers who confine themselves to the use of hops, are pretty sure to compete successfully with those who use a proportion of other bitters. When, however, hops rise to an extravagant price, a few good hops used with a proportion of the other bitters, will enable a brewer to produce a beer which the public will prefer both to that brewed with very inferior hops, and also to beers brewed with good hops only, but reduced in gravity to such a point as will allow of a fair profit.
As a general rule, not more than one-third of the hops should be substituted by other bitters, and certainly one-half the usual quantity of hops, and other bitters substituted for the other half, is the extreme proportion in which it is safe to use the latter.
There is one aspect of this question which brewers should always bear in mind, and that is, that none of the other wholesome bitters have anything like the same antiseptic power as hops, and consequently that a beer brewed with the latter will, if other things are equal, keep better than a beer in which other bitters have been substituted for a portion of the hops. Of the substances I have enumerated, calyso comes nearest to hops in its antiseptic properties.
The so-called hop substitutes and hop supplements, are all preparations or mixtures of one or more of the above bitter substances." (Source: "A systematic handbook of practical brewing", by E.R. Southby, 1885, pages 259-262.)
That's it for Southby for the moment. Unless I get desperate again.