Hops, lat. Humulus, is a plant of the hemp family (Cannabaceae). Yes, hemp plants! But that does not mean that anyone should get the idea of sticking hop cones in the pipe. Let’s leave the hop where it belongs, namely in the production of beer. All hop varieties are found in the northern hemisphere, but the best-known hop variety is probably “the real hops” (hum. Lupulus) which is the biggest use for beer brewing.
Bitter substances cause the typical bitter beer taste and contribute to the biological durability of the beer. Also, the quality of the head of foam depends on the bitter substances that sit in the lupulin glands of hops and can be solved with ether.
In addition to the bitter substances, the essential oils play a very important role in the production of beer. Because these are responsible for the aroma. The tasty hop aroma gives the beer a round taste and thus contributes to the flavour harmony.
Then there are the tannins. These play an important role in the clarification of the beer. In this process, they combine with unwanted proteins and cause them to flocculate. Then they can be removed as a so-called “break”. In addition, the tannins are promised a preservative effect.
In Europe: In the spring (from the end of March), the hop gardens are cultivated. The hop plant needs a climbing aid, which is why it is grown in scaffolding plants. For this purpose, two to three shoots are placed around a wire so that they can rise to it. By the end of July, they will grow to a scaffold height of up to seven meters. Only female hop plants are used for cultivation, as only these contain lupulin and a very rich hops umbel. Male hops are only used in breeding for crossing.
As soon as the ears are ripe, the vines are cut off and taken off the scaffolding. In the yard, picking machines separate the umbels. Subsequently, the umbels are dried until they contain only about 11% moisture, then they are pressed and cooled. The most common form of processing are the so-called pellets. These are small pressed cylindrical hop parts.