What are hops?

  • (noun): Twining perennials having cordate leaves and flowers arranged in conelike spikes; the dried flowers of this plant are used in brewing to add the characteristic bitter taste to beer.
    Synonyms: hop


Hops are the female flowers(commonly called seed cones or strobiles), of a hop species, Humulus lupulus. They are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavor, though hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine. In the Middle Ages the beers which were brewed were of a very low alcohol content; they were drunk because the water was infected. Each village tended to have one or more small breweries with a barley field and a hop garden in close vicinity. Early documents include mention of a hop garden in the will of Charlemagne's father, Pepin III. However, the first documented use of hops in beer as a flavouring agent is from the 11th century. Before this period, brewers used a wide variety of bitter herbs and flowers, including dandelion, burdock root, marigold, horehound (the German name for horehound means "mountain hops"), ground ivy, and heather. Hops are used extensively in brewing for their antibacterial effect that favours the activity of brewer's yeast over less desirable microorganisms and for many purported benefits, including balancing the sweetness of the malt with bitterness, contributing a variety of desirable flavors and aromas. Historically, traditional herb combinations for ales were believed to have been abandoned when ales made with hops were noticed to be less prone to spoilage.

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Some articles on hops:

Spalt - Culture and Sights
... Spalt has two museums the Hops and Beer Museum, and a fire station museum ... during which a girl is crowned the "Hops Queen." Every two years, the Funsport Challenge Madmud (well known throughout Europe) is held here ... contribute to that, it's done by good beer.) Spalt is the middle of one of Germany's hops cultivation zones, having grown hops since 1341, with the hops seal since 1538 ...
The Beverages of The Lancaster Brewing Company
... Lager, Vienna-style lager with a light copper color and malty sweet flavor Hop Hog, an India Pale Ale with a citrus, malt flavor ... Milk Stout, English-style dark ale Amish Four Grain, multi-grain pale ale with Saaz hops Strawberry Wheat Beer, a summer lager with a strawberry flavor Gold Star Pilsener ...
Alcohol Belts Of Europe - Beer Belt
... to the historical growing range of its two main ingredients barley, and more especially hops ... Hops are more narrowly distributed, preferring humid temperate climates, similar to potatoes ... Originally, Euopean "ale" (not yet called beer) was produced without hops, which were introduced to Europe from the east (originating in China) ...
HOPS Stain
... In histology, the HOPS stain is a way of marking tissue for microscopic examination ... HOPS is an acronym for haematoxylin, orcein, phyloxin and saffron ...
Hops - Other Uses - Medicinal
... Hops are also used in herbal medicine in a way similar to valerian, as a treatment for anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia ... A pillow filled with hops is a popular folk remedy for sleeplessness ... Hops may be used alone, but more frequently they are combined with other herbs, such as valerian ...

Famous quotes containing the word hops:

    The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race can no more be exterminated than the flea can be. The last man lives the longest.
    Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)