Showing posts with label hops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hops. Show all posts

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A photo a day while I was away: Poperinge's parade of hops.

The history of the hop. Friends and enemies of the hop. Monks, itinerant hop pickers and bagpipers. Beetles, mites and birds. It's a broad cross-section of life, nature and mankind, all coming past our table at the Pousse Cafe on Ieperstraat.

More photos are here. We also visited the hops museum.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sustainability: "It's about the soil."

Lately, and for obvious reasons, I've been fond of saying that the first ironclad rule of sustainability is survival. Without respiration, the remainder is rhetoric.

Then there's crop rotation.

What Farm-to-Table Got Wrong, by Dan Barber (New York Times)

... Today, almost 80 percent of Americans say sustainability is a priority when purchasing food. The promise of this kind of majority is that eating local can reshape landscapes and drive lasting change.

Except it hasn’t.

One section is of specific interest to beer fans.

... It’s one thing for chefs to advocate cooking with the whole farm; it’s another thing to make these uncelebrated crops staples in ordinary kitchens. Bridging that divide will require a new network of regional processors and distributors.

Take beer, for example. The explosion in local microbreweries has meant a demand for local barley malt. A new malting facility near Klaas’s farm recently opened in response. He now earns 30 percent more selling barley for malt than he did selling it for animal feed. For other farmers, it’s a convincing incentive to diversify their grain crops.

It isn't for nothing that we refer to food chains, and in the case of barley (and hops), local supplies count for little absent the means to malt and process them. While it's true that many readers already know this, remember that others don't. It can make for interesting barside conversation.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chemists espouse the health benefits of beer.

I stumbled across this during a web search, and although it's a few years old (1996), it's quite inspirational. It makes me thirsty for a pint of Bitter.

A pint a day ...

Sterile, free of toxic metals, isotonic and good for the heart, beer is undeserving of decades of bad press, say David Williams and Jeremy Philpott.

Beer is one of the most ancient foods known to humankind. Grain was being fermented to brew beer as long ago as ca 3500 BC - 2000 years before it was used in baking bread. Used as payment, ration, or gift, beer has been drunk and celebrated by people all over the world for thousands of years. Up to 300 years ago it was safer to drink beer than surface water because the water used in brewing had been boiled, and until recently stout was frequently prescribed for post-natal women and the infirm ...

It is way past time then to dispel some of the myths about beer. When used as part of a balanced diet, beer is beneficial for human health, and the infrequent mishap resulting from a little over-indulgence is no reason to brand beer as contrary to our well-being.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Brewer's droop, industrial disease, gruit and hops.

Evidently Stephen Harrod Buhner is the Garrett Oliver of his field. One of his books is Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation (1998), which I dimly recall being recommended to me by one of the (shall we say) more left-leaning of homebrewing club members at the time.

But the reason why brewer's droop has arisen in this context goes back to my friend Karen pointing me to Buhner's article about gruit vs. hops.

The Fall of Gruit and the Rise of Brewer's Droop, by Stephen Harrod Buhner (2003)

... To understand why hops replaced gruit it is important keep in mind the properties of gruit ale: it is highly intoxicating and aphrodisiacal when consumed in sufficient quantity. Gruit ale stimulates the mind, creates euphoria and enhances sexual drive. Hopped ale is quite different. Contemporary scientific research has conclusively demonstrated that hops contains large quantities of estrogenic and soporific compounds. In fact hops has been used for many thousands of years in traditional medical practice as a natural estrogen replacement therapy and to help insomniacs sleep. The high level of plant estrogens in hops makes hopped beer an extremely good drink for women in menopause but also makes it a very bad drink for men. Consumption by men of large levels of estrogenic compounds can lead to erection problems later in life. In fact, there is a well-known condition in England called Brewer's Droop which is regularly contracted by bartenders and brewers after years of exposure to hopped beers and ales.

I've no idea whether any of this is reputable, and I always thought it was the alcohol itself that contributes to erectile dysfunction, but veracity isn't my point.

Where had I heard the phrase "brewer's droop"?

It took a long while for it to surface, but finally I traced it back to Dire Straits and the song "Industrial Disease," released in 1982.

Doctor Parkinson declared 'I'm not surprised to see you here
You've got smokers cough from smoking, brewer's droop from drinking beer
I don't know how you came to get the Betty Davis knees
But worst of all young man you've got Industrial Disease'

Brewer's Droop apparently has a double meaning, as it was the name of a band, too. Why was the name Parkinson used? I'm not sure, but Cecil Parkinson was one of Maggie's favorites at the time of the album's incubation.

Downfall of Margaret Thatcher's number one guy Cecil Parkinson; HE WAS the golden boy of the Conservative Party in the early Eighties, by Neil Clark (Express)

A favourite of prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Cecil Parkinson had as Tory chairman masterminded the landslide election victory over Labour in 1983. Handsome, charming and highly ambitious, he was the man who - as newly released private papers suggest - Mrs Thatcher wanted to anoint as her successor.

Unfortunately, Parkinson's mistress turned up pregnant, and his star abruptly fell. No drooper, he; probably a wine drinker, and not Horace Rumpole's Chateau de Thames Embankment, either.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Two links to hops tales.

That's right: Hops at Popular Mechanics:

10 Hop Varieties That Make American Beer Stand Out

Brewers engineered this craft revolution by embracing the best and most flavorful ingredients they could find. This means finding high-quality barley malt, the right yeast, fresh and appropriate water and, of course, the finest hops.

And then there's the bad news, as reported at

An interesting story about a returning hop crisis appeared on the Rogue Ales news wire on Friday: “The explosive popularity of hoppy beer has become bittersweet as the total American harvest was off 30% for the year, according to December’s USDA hop harvest report. Especially screwed now are those brewers relying on smaller-yield, aroma-centric American hops to make mainstream-barreling IPAs, since Simcoe, Citra and Amarillo are largely (if not totally) sold for the year.” It looks like a Beer Business Daily re-post so kudos goes to them for the reporting.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Office Hours for Monday, February 15: IPA from all over the place.

I'll come equipped with style definitions, samples and anecdotes. I hope to have single hop IPA, Double IPA and Belgian IPA at the very least. The aim is to taste, listen and learn from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. RSVPs are not necessary. In case of threatening weather, stay tuned to the blog and NABC's other news outlets on Twitter and Facebook.

Hops. What's not to love?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Updated Lupulin Land Harvest Hopcoming beer list.

Updated on Wednesday, October 15

The Lupulin Land Harvest Hopcoming beer list continues to evolve. Here's an accounting as of Sunday, October 5. Bear in mind that there will be representation from stalwarts like Dogfish Head, Stone and Victory; the nets are still out, and we'll see what comes in.

Accordingly, this link will be updated periodically as we approach opening night on Friday, October 17.

A * indicates that according to my shaky memory, we haven't had it on tap previously.

American Craft Microbrews
*Allagash Hugh Malone Ale 1/6 barrel
BBC (Main & Clay) Dank IPA (firkin)
Boulder Mojo IPA 1/2 barrel
Breckenridge 471 Double IPA 2 x 1/6 barrel
*Browning’s Brewery Harvest Ale 1/2 barrel
Browning’s Brewery She-Devil 1/2 barrel
Clipper City Heavy Seas Hop 3 (firkin)
Crooked Tree Double Crooked Tree IPA 1/6 barrel
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA 1/2 barrel
Founders Centennial IPA 2 x 1/2 barrel
*Founders Harvest Ale 1/2 barrel
Founders Red’s Rye 1/2 barrel
Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale
*Left Hand Chainsaw 1/6 barrel
NABC Fifth Anniversary (V) ½ barrel
NABC Oaked Croupier ¼ barrel
NABC Oaktimus 2 x ½ barrel
*New Holland Existential - Ale 1/6 barrel
Oaken Barrel Superfly IPA 1/2 barrel
Rogue “John’s Locker Stock” Double Dead Guy 1/2 barrel
Rogue “John’s Locker Stock” Glen 2 x ½ barrels
*Schlafly Hop Harvest Ale 1/2 barrel
*Schlafly India Brown Ale ½ barrel
Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale 2 x ½ barrels
*Sierra Nevada Chico Estate Harvest Wet Hop Ale 1/2 barrels
Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale 2 x ½ barrels
*Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale 1/2 barrel
Stone Ruination IPA 1/2 barrel
*Three Floyds Alpha Naught ½ barrel
Two Brothers Heavy Handed 1/6 barrel
*Victory Hop Wallop 1/2 barrel

Imports (all from Belgium)
*Alvinne Extra 1/6 barrel
De Ranke XX Bitter 30 L
*Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor 2 x 1/6 barrels
Houblon Chouffe 2 x 20 L

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

2008 Lupulin Land Harvest Hopcoming preview.

Jared recently returned from a mapping expedition of Cellar #3, and he took an inventory of the contents in preparation for our "Big Three" of annual draft festivals. For the record, here are the starting dates:

Friday, October 17: Lupulin Land Harvest Hopcoming ... 7th edition
Friday, December 12: Saturnalia Winter Solstice MMVIII ... 5th edition
Friday, February 27 (2009): Gravity Head "The Liver Olympics" ... 11th edition

The following Lupulin Land list indicates those kegs already procured unless noted by an asterisk. There'll be a few more on the way. As always, I've invited all Louisville area breweries to participate. Obvously, the emphasis is on American craft brews, but there may be a few surprises.

Allagash Hugh Malone Ale 1/6 barrel
*Alvinne Extra 1/6 barrel
Clipper City Heavy Seas Hop 3 (firkin)
Crooked Tree Double Crooked Tree IPA 1/6 barrel
Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor 2 x 1/6 barrels
*Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale
Left Hand Chainsaw 1/6 barrel
NABC Oaktimus 2 x ½ barrel
NABC Fifth Anniversary (V) ½ barrel
NABC Oaked Croupier ¼ barrel
New Holland Existential - Ale 1/6 barrel
Rogue “John’s Locker Stock” Glen 2 x ½ barrels
Schlafly India Brown Ale ½ barrel
Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale 2 x ½ barrels
Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale 2 x ½ barrels
Three Floyds Alpha Naught ½ barrel

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jesse Williams on national television this morning.

CNN Headline News apparently picked it up from Louisville's WHAS-11. It's a piece on hop prices, and NABC's Jesse Williams comments.

Beer makers raise prices

Good work ... rotten topic!

Monday, September 17, 2007

"The hop world is upside down. In the future we see the possibility of brewers shutting down for lack of hops."

The information that follows has been copied from the Brewers Association Forum Vol. 13-0911, and should be of interest to all readers, but especially the hopheads among us.

Tomorrow I’ll post another excerpt from the Forum, this one on the topic of barley malt pricing and availability.

Need I remind anyone about rising fuel prices?

None of this is designed to inspire panic or perpetuate doomsday scenarios. There are plenty of those to be found on the front page of today's newspaper. Rather, it's useful to nurse the occasional dose of realism about where the beer in the glass comes from, and what it takes to make it.

Chase it with a good beer, and keep your fingers crossed.


From: David Edgar
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - 3:12 PM
Subject: Re: Dramatic Price Increases in Ingredients

Hop Supply and Early 2007 Crop Update

Here are some comments from Ralph Olson's talk two weeks ago during Hopunion's annual Hops & Brew School seminars in Yakima (also used as the basis for a Hop Update presentation I gave last Saturday to the MBAA District New England in Portland, ME). Ralph is very busy at the moment between receiving hops, buying hops and quoting different brewers for contracts, so he asked me to send this post.

"The hop world is upside down. In the future we see the possibility of brewers shutting down for lack of hops."

For US hops 2007 is looking like an average crop, but not a bumper crop.

Slovenia (grower of Styrians) lost at least 1/3 and possibly as much as 1/2 of their crop to a hailstorm.

The Czech crop is down 25% this year. Estimated alphas on Czech Saaz from the 2007 crop are 2.7 - 2.9.

The German crop is average at best with earlier aroma hops coming in below normal (such as Hallertau Mittelfruh).

New Zealand and Australia crops this year (which arrived in the US in June and July) were normal.

England is almost out of the hop business. Their acreage of 2,400 in 2006 (down from 17,000 in 1976) represents 2 percent of the worldwide acreage.

World acreage:
1986: 215,600
1992: 236,000
2006: 123,000

Ralph's best guess is that in 1992 the acreage should have been between 160,000 - 170,000 if it was to match world demand/usage at that time. The 1990s' excess hop crop ended up being processed into pellets and extracts, building up substantial excess inventory. Excess production that was 2, 3 and 5 years old was selling on the open market and as a result brought prices down. Hop prices had dropped so low in recent years that in many cases they were lower than what it costs to grow them. For example: prices got as low as $1.70/lb. for pellets of Cascade.

That is way below what it takes for a hop grower to cover his costs.

High-alpha hops and some aroma hops are going overseas - the high rate of the Euro is a factor.

In the spot market for high-alpha hops, growers are not putting a price on them yet. They're waiting to see how high the prices may go.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s the prices were depressed and growers were starting to throw in the towel, to either switch to other crops, or sell out to real estate developers. The ones who stayed in it and managed to survive without going under are pleased to be in this situation now, which is 180 degrees opposite from where it was about 10 years ago.

The demand for Cascades is up 30% this year alone. We are 300-400 acres short on Cascade compared to where we need to be. Cascade acreage was 1,003 in 2001, jumped up to 2,120 in 2003 (because one major brewer announced plans to use it, but then reversed course) and total Cascade acreage is now back near the same 2001-year-level, at 1,116 in 2006.

Prices are the highest they've ever been - and it's beyond comprehension. Cascades were priced at $7/lb. three weeks ago and are currently being quoted at or near $10.00/lb.

Willamettes went from $5.50 to $7.00/lb. and may also get to $10/lb.

It takes three years to get to full production on a new hop field, however, we don't have the number of growers needed to put new acres in (the total of US growers is about 45, down from more than 2000 in 1978. About new 2,000 acres are going in this year; almost all of those are high alpha. The Cascade increase in acreage is 0.

"We are, in my opinion, in trouble."

What's the bottom line? Certain varieties are getting a lot more expensive. A few varieties will run out faster than ever. Brewers have to be willing to try other varieties. Brewmasters, brewery owners, and marketing and sales managers must prepare for the potential need to substitute different hops, to replace varieties that currently give your beers their "signature" flavor. That's what we'll have to get used to, the fact that there may be slight flavor variations over the next several years, as the hop industry works to correct this situation. It's not going to get better soon, but will be likely just as bad, or worse, for the crops from 2008 and 2009, in other words, for beers brewed from now through 2010.

Wish we had better news to report!

David Edgar
Mountain West Brewery Supply, Inc., representing:
* Chrisdec & Rastal
* Hopunion
* White Labs
* Chrislan Ceramics

Monday, August 20, 2007

Misleading, don't you think?

Czech legend has it that the finest hops are picked by female virgins, so this announcement prompted considerable expectation and a bit of lewdness, but alas, it was all about brides, and didn’t have anything at all to do with a “hop tasting.”

A boy can dream. Do the virgin hop pickers wear white?