Today in 1887, US Patent 356323 A was issued, an invention of Franklin Leonard, for his “Machine for Picking and Separating Hops.” There’s no Abstract, and the description is hard to read, as well, but it’s a “new and improved Machine for Picking and Separating Hops from the Vines.”
Today in 1967, US Patent 3298835 A was issued, an invention of Murray Peter John Andrew, Clarke Brian James, Hildebrand Robert Peter, and Harold Frank Vincent, and assigned to Carlton & United Breweries, for their “Process for Production of a Hop Concentrate.” Essentially it’s a “process for the production of a hop concentrate wherein the flavour imparting constituents of hops are increased by extracting and then converting inactive constituents to active flavour imparting constituents.” There’s no Abstract, but this is from the description:
The process of this invention involves the utilization of those constituents which are regarded as relatively inactive or which do not normally impart the desired flavour characteristics to brewed beverages and which are not converted to any substantial degree to active flavour-imparting constituents during treatment by existing. processes. In the process of our co-pending application the relatively inactive hop constituents of a-acids known as humulones are converted to the more active iso-humulones by the process of isomerization. It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved process for the production of a hop concentrate for brewing purposes, whereby the lupulones content of the p-acids of hops may be utilized in addition to the humulone content of the a-acids, thereby increasing the flavouring or bittering characteristics of the hop concentrate final product for the production of a brewed beverage.
Today in 1968, US Patent 3364033 A was issued, an invention of Lars O. Spetsig, assigned to Sweden’s Stockholms Bryggerier Ab, for his “Method of Preparing Hop Extracts.” There’s no Abstract, but here’s his introduction in the description. “This invention relates to a new and improved method of preparing hop extracts for flavoring beer and other fermented malt beverages, in which a more complete utilisation of the hop constituents is achieved.” And further along there’s this:
It has now been discovered that better utilisation of the valuable substances is achieved if the hops are extracted in the following manner. The hops are first treated with Warm water to obtain a tannin extract. This is followed by leaching out the readily soluble bitter substances (among them hulupones) and isomerizing the relatively insoluble humulones to readily soluble isohumulones: by boiling the hops in an aqueous solution of neutral pH to yield a first bitter extract. Rapid boiling at this stage is preferred to counteract oxidation. The vapour boiling off is condensed to form an aromatic extract. Since the most valuable aromatic substances are the last to be distilled off, however, fractionation may be employed to collect two or more separate fractions. Finally, the partially spent hops are oxidised by customary means, e.g. see Swedish Patent No. 150,997, to form a second bitter extract.
A Bestiary is an old-fashioned idea, from the Middles Ages, where various animals and other creatures, often fanciful, mythical and fictitious, were illustrated, and then there was a detailed description of each beast, usually accompanied by an allegorical story with a moral or religious teaching. You can see examples of many of these imaginary creatures at the Medieval Bestiary. A Los Angeles illustrator and graphic designer, Ian O’Phelan, has created a modern version, which he calls a “Beer Bestiary.” With just four mythical creatures in his bestiary, his fantastic four you’ll likely recognize, if not individually, at least for what they can become as a superhero team, your next beer.
Here’s an interesting look at hops from a 1914 publication. The book is Nature Neighbors, a lavishly illustrated multi-volume set of nature books published by the American Audubon Association in Chicago, which was limited to only 2,500 printed copies. It was edited by Nathaniel Moore Banta, with “articles by Gerard Alan Abbott, Dr. Albert Schneider, William Kerr Higley, Thomas Crowder Chamberlin, John Merle Coulter, David Starr Jordan, and Other Eminent Naturalists.”
In Volume 4, covering minerals and plants, under Chapter III: Medicinal Plants, by Dr. Albert Schneider, beginning at page 133, they include a description and illustration of hops.
“The Hop has been called the Northern vine. It is found in a wild state throughout Europe, excepting the extreme North, and extends east to the Caucasus and through Central Asia. It is a handsome plant and not infrequently used as an arbor plant. The lower or basal leaves are very large, gradually decreasing in size toward the apex.
Hops is also cultivated in Brazil and other South American countries, Australia, and India.
The principal use of hops is in the manufacture of beer, to which it imparts the peculiarly bitter taste, and its repute as a tonic. For this purpose enormous quantities are consumed in Germany and England. The exhausted hops
from the breweries form an excellent fertilizer for light soils. The leaves have been used as fodder for cows. Leaves, stems, and roots possess astringent properties and have been used in tanning. In Sweden the fiber of the stem is used in manufacturing a very durable white cloth, not unlike the cloth made from hemp and flax.
Hops is used medicinally. It at first causes a very slight excitation of brain and heart, followed by a rather pronounced disposition to sleep. Pillows stuffed with hops form a very popular domestic remedy for wakefulness.
Hop bags dipped in hot water form a very soothing external application in painful inflammatory conditions, especially of the abdominal organs. It has undoubted value as a bitter tonic in dyspepsia and in undue cerebral excitation.”
Description of plate : A, staminate (male) inflorescence; B, pistillate (female) inflorescence; C, fruiting branch; 1, staminate flower; 2, perigone; 3, stamen; 4, open anther; 5, pollen; 6, pistillate catkin; 7, 8, 9, pistillate flowers; 10, scales; 11, 12, 13, scales and flowers; 14, 15, fruit; 16, 17, 19, seed; 20, resin gland (lupuhn).
You can see the book in its entirety at the Internet Archive, where you can also download a pdf, ePub or Kindle formatted file there. Or read it online via Open Library, where you want to look for page 308.
For a number of years, the winding down of summer brings one of my favorite traditions: hop harvest. Brian Hunt, from nearby Moonlight Brewing — the best brewer you’ve probably never heard of unless you’re from the Bay Area — has a quarter-acre of hops planted on his brewery property, known as “The Abbey de St. Humulus,” which he uses each year to make his Fresh Hop Ale, Homegrown. As we do every year we’re able, the whole family, mother-in-law included, made our way to hop harvest, which Brian does 19th century-style. Which means that entire families get together for the day, and spend hours cutting down the bines, and hand-picking the hops and filling up buckets, which will be dumped into the beer without being kilned the same day, all the while eating, drinking and socializing. In a few weeks, Homegrown will be on draft at select bars around the Bay Area, along with plenty of other fresh hop beers as beerjolais nouveau season gets underway. Below is a little photo essay of our day picking hops.
A shady spot is made under multiple pop-up canopies with a tarp floor, where the hop bines are laid out for picking, then everybody sits around and carefully pulls off the hop flowers, discarding the leaves, stems, bines and other material so only the hops that flavor the beer are separated into buckets.
A very fun day picking hops in the warm California sunshine. While it was great fun, we’re all exhausted and a little sore, with scratches all over our bodies. Thank goodness, tomorrow is Labor Day, and we can relax without doing much labor, apart from enjoying a few beers.
In a few weeks time, keep an eye out for Moonlight Brewing’s Homegrown Fresh Hop Ale, along with many other fresh hop, or wet hop, beers. They’re only around for a very short time, and once they;re gone, that’s it until next year. These are beers with intense hop aromas and flavors, and the fresher they are, better they taste.
I got a press release yesterday from a Julian Healey about a project he’s just launched. His new website from Australia is The Hoplist, and includes information on at least 268 varieties of hops, which they claim is the “biggest list of hops … ever.” And that seems right, most of the hop guides are put out by the hop growers and sellers, and focus on just the varieties that they carry, whereas the Hoplist is at least attempting to be complete. For each hop, there’s a description of the hop and nearly two-dozen bits of information about it. I’ll be in Melbourne in just over a week, so perhaps I can share a beer with Julian. I think I’ll suggest something hoppy.
Today’s beer video is from All Beer TV, a production of SaboresTv in Argentina. As such, most of it’s in Spanish. The show features a visit to Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville. But even though it’s in Spanish, don’t worry. Stick with it, at around the 1:30 mark, brewmaster Fal Allen starts speaking, in English, so you’ll be able to figure it out. You may get more out of it if you’re bilingual, but either way he’s the one talking for most of the 24-minute video.