Botany of Hops


What are hops?

Hops are the flowers (also called seed cones or strobiles) of the hop plant Humulus lupulus.They are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart bitter, zesty, or citric flavours; though they are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine. The hop plant is a vigorous, climbing, herbaceous perennial, usually trained to grow up strings in a field called a hopfield, hop garden (nomenclature in the South of England), or hop yard (in the West Country and U.S.) when grown commercially. Many different varieties of hops are grown by farmers around the world, with different types being used for particular styles of beer.

Why are hops Important?

According to (2018)There are four basic ingredients to beer, but only three are essential: malted barley, yeast and water. However, beer made with only these three will be sickly-sweet and dull. Throughout brewing history, brewers have added something extra—usually a plant part of some sort—to give their beer balance and depth.

Developing new beers

West Coast microbrewers led the way in creating beers where the character of hops—bitter, piney, grassy, floral, or grapefruity—took center stage. 

Beer lovers took pride in seeking out the brews with higher and higher IBUs—international bittering units, the measure of the concentration of hop compounds in beer.

High-hopped beers are not for every taste. But for the hop lovers out there, there is a stunning array of hop varieties—with new ones being developed all the time—that brewers employ singly or in combination.