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When American hops sucked . . .

The United States became a net exporter of hops in the 1870s, so somebody must have liked varieties grown in America. In fact, exactly 100 years ago the U.S. exported 10.5 million pounds of hops and imported 3.2 million. Eighty percent of the exports went to England, while almost all the imports came from Germany and Austria-Hungary (thus Bohemia, where Saaz hops were grown).

Yet consider this from article in The Edinburgh Review from 1862, only a few years before the U.S. began exporting more hops than it imported:

“American hops may also be dismissed in a few words. Like American grapes, they derive a course, rank flavour and smell from the soil in which they grow, which no management, however careful, has hitherto succeeded in neutralising. There is little chance in their competing in our market with European growth, except in season of scarcity and of unusually high prices.”

Think how you’d feel if you were a grower and read that at Rate Hops or Hop Advocate?


2 Responses to When American hops sucked . . .

  1. Ron Pattinson February 12, 2010 at 3:13 am #

    Opinion of American hops didn’t improve much in the following decades, even though from the 1870’s onwards considerable amounts were used in British beers. American hops were usually aged for at least 12 months before use.

  2. todd February 12, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    The notion that American hops suck is/was perpetuated by hop researchers themselves too. One famous hop researcher maintained that “wild hops” from American soil are “only good to make beer that nobody would ever drink.” The truth is that the American “wild hops” are very citrus flavored,,,and all kinds of citrus at that. The mythmakers always have their day,,and submotives.

    BTW- Europe may have been upset that America was growing a plant native to Europe and not even growing the hops that are native to America and perhaps,,,should not try to compete.

    Let’s hope that Humulus lupulus var. neomexicana will someday have it’s turn in the tun. I for one look forward to some REAL American hop flavored brews.

    Besides,,variety is the spice of life!!

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