The earliest notation,

of the use of hops in beer was with the Babylonians, who used hops to brew extremely strong stuff. About the same time, hops could be found growing in Italy among the vines. The Romans use to eat the hops as we would eat vegetables today. At it was probably the Romans who brought the hop to England. But it was the Babylonians who migrated across Central Europe and past on their knowledge of using hops in beer.

Until their introduction, beer had been made with various additives, from fruit to coriander and ginger. With the arrival of the hop, these additives were slowly taken out. The hop could add bitterness, preserve the beer for longer and increased the Brewer’s profits because it meant he could reduce the amount of grain used. It also meant that the beer no longer had to contain as much alcohol – which had previously been a way of preserving the beer.

Records show that the German’s cultivated the hop in the 8th and 9th century AD around Cologne. Because of tight controls and local infighting, it took until the 14th century for hoped beer to find its way to Holland.

England first taste of hopped beer was in the early 1400’s when beer from Holland was exported across the Channel. Again, hopped beer met with fierce resistance from local Brewers, despite the hop being in Britain since the Romans. However, English soldiers were fighting in the Low Countries and developed a taste of their local beer. Upon returning to England, there was a demand for the hopped beer.

The first hop seeds were planted in England by 1430.

In the early 17th centaury hops were first exported from England to America. American beers were at that time brewed using hops and other ingredients such as spruce bark. In 1629 the first hop seeds were imported into America, enabling them to grow their own hops. The initial heart of America’s hop growing area was in New York, but as the West opened up, New York slowly declined in importance.

Americans found the hop to be useful in for other things. The hop produced red/brown dye, it could be eaten (as the Romans had done) and the fibres could be used in textiles.

The amount of hops used could influence the Beer’s shelf life. Some of the most hopped beers were introduced to cope with very long journeys. One such example is the development of Indian Pale Ale (IPA) brewed in England and exported for British Soldiers stationed in India.

Alternative uses of the Hop

Hops have been used to:

- relieve toothache and earache

- cleanse the blood

- act as a mild sedative

- inducing sleep without causing headaches

- produce a red/brown dye

- eat the shouts, as we eat asparagus

Hop Varieties

Brewers Gold

– Used mainly in Stouts. Hash, coarse flavour and aroma


• Fruity American hop. Aromatic, nice aroma. Common for both light and dark beers


• Old American variety which has now been superceded by the Cascade.


• Good aroma. Used mainly for Stouts and Dark Ales.


• Initiated by Richard Fuggle of Kent. Good for Ales.


• Coarse flavour – Good bittering hop.


• From Kent, used as a good finishing hop in traditional English Ales.


• German, excellent for all lagers.


• German, also excellent for all lagers.


• se Zatec.


• German, aromatic, mild flavour. Appropriate for all lagers.


• American variety of the English Fuggles. Good for finishing.

Wye Target

• good extract hop, resistant to wilt.


• Czech Republic, providing the right flavour and aroma for premium Pilsners. The original lager hop grown around the town of Zatec.