Tomorrow is IPA Day:
You should probably take a moment to let one of those soak in.
Most people know the “story” of IPA, in that the style evolved from British beer shipments to thirsty troops stationed in the sub-continent. While that may not be entirely true, the strong, hoppy beer was better preserved with higher alcohol content and extra hops added to the bill. The style has evolved much further over the past several years in the hands of the American craft brewers.
Did you know that hops were originally used as a preservative in beer brewing? In fact, hops were more prevalent by continental brewers in modern Central Germany and Europe in the 8th and 9th Centuries…and originally resisted by brewers on the British Isles, in favor of other bittering herbs, such as dandelion, burdock root, marigold, horehound (the German name for horehound means “mountain hops”), ground ivy, and heather. The use of other herbs gradually faded as it was noticed that hopped ales were less prone to spoilage.
The hop (Humulus lupulus) female flower is closely related to the cannibis plant – pot or marijuana in layman’s terms – and is used only for brewing. It has no other standard industrial uses, other than as an herbal medicine, for the supposed treatment of insomnia, anxiety or restlessness.
Hallertau, an area just north Munich, is ground zero for hop production dating back to the 736 A.D. Today, hops are grown on all continents other than Antartica. Worldwide production is led by Germany, Ethiopia, United States and China.