These days “Hop Culture in California” means bitter beers, beers with lots of hop flavors and aromas, and this time of year beers brewed with fresh hops. But in 1900 it was the title of Farmer’s Bulletin No. 115 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Just a couple of excerpts (for now):
In New York States several varieties are cultivated, while in England and on the continent of Europe there are numerous varieties. But on the Pacific Coast there is practically but one variety of hops grown, called the “Large gray Americans.” There is a variety known as the “San Jose root,” but it is destroyed wherever found. It is darker in color, has a smaller vine and more leaves, and is poorer in yield.
The variety used was not native to California, but brought from Vermont. And place made a difference. “. . . regardless of the kinds planted, great variations in hops result from difference in soil, climate, and and methods of culture. This is clearly shown by the fact that in California from roots having a common origin different growers in different localities are now producing green, medium, and golden hops.”
Hop growing in California began in 1855 in Alameda County. Prior to that the only hops used in California were brought “around the Horn.” When brewers in Sacramento began using fresh, strong California hops “they used the same quantity, with the result that the beer was too bitter for use. Consequently they began to reduce the quantity used for a brew and to mix them with the old imported hops.”
Not any more.