What Do You Know About Hops?

Photo by Ron Healey


Today is IPA Day, making it the perfect day to share a little uncommon knowledge related to everyone’s favorite flavoring agent – hops.

11 Random Hop Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

1. The hop bine is a perennial flowering plant that can take up to three years to mature.

2. When hops are fresh off the vine, they have 70% moisture and can mold within three days.

3. Hops were first added to beer to keep it from spoiling, not for flavor – when brewers realized hops had antiseptic powers they were able to lower alcohol content in their beers, which meant they didn’t have to use as much grain – so production costs were lower, and profits were higher. The delightful bittering flavor was just an added bonus.

4. The first documented hop yard dates back to the year 736, and was found on a monastery in Bavaria.

5. There are two main hop types – bittering and aroma.

  • Bittering hops have higher concentrations of alpha acids, and are responsible for the large majority of the bitter flavor of a beer.
  • Aroma hops usually have a lower concentration of alpha acids and are the primary contributors of hop aroma and (non-bitter) flavor.
Photo by Ron Healey

6. The majority of the world’s commercial hop production occurs between latitudes 35 and 55 degrees, either north or south of the equator because day length during the growing season has a major effect on yield.

7. Germany is the only country in the world producing more hops than the U.S. with 43,818 acres dedicated to the crop. (The U.S. has 30,016 acres)

8. Farmers in the Appalachian region use hops as a sleep aid. When insomnia strikes, they fill their pillows with hops to help them snooze. Other known medicinal properties include healing flesh wounds, curing syphilis and when smoked, improving symptoms of glaucoma.

9. Hops can be toxic to dogs. When a canine consumes hops it causes malignant hyperthermia, which may lead to dangerously high temperatures or even death.

10. Hops keep chickens healthy – chicken guts were a primary source for meat contamination until scientists discovered that adding hops to a coop’s diet will prevent pathogenic bacteria from infecting the chickens’ stomachs and intestinal tracts just as effectively as lo-level antibiotic treatments.

11. Hop vines can grow up to one foot a day.

If that list didn’t satisfy you, sit back, crack open something bitter, and check out this iPhone video of Tim Herzog from Flying Bison Brewing Company talking about how he uses hops.

If you’re really hopped up, tell us about your favorite IPA in the comments section. Cheers!

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