Different kinds of hop, shaped by weather and soil conditions, are key to creating many of the world’s favourite beers
It’s common knowledge that some years produce particularly good wines. That’s because weather affects the qualities of the grapes – a good year will produce a superior vintage.
Beer enthusiasts are equally aware that it is the ingredients that imbue each brew with its distinctive character. However, climate – rather than simply the weather – is the most important factor that has an impact on these elements.
The use of hops gives beer its distinctive bitterness and can impart all kinds of other flavours – hops are classed as either ‘bittering’, ‘aroma’ or ‘dual purpose’ based on their use. Bines are harvested once per year in each hemisphere, dried, then added to the boiling liquid extracted from malt – early in the boil to add bitterness, late for aroma – before yeast is added to the mixture to begin fermentation.
Hop bines grow in a more restricted temperature range than grapes, and are more vulnerable to pests and bad weather. So new varieties have been created over the centuries to allow easier cultivation in different conditions, and to produce completely different aromas and tastes.