A History of Hops: The Condensed Version Part II

Leave a comment

April 28, 2014 by Prost Brewing

Old Illustration of Hops - Humulus lupulus - Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany

Old Illustration of Hops – Humulus lupulus – Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany

The first written description of the preserving effects of hops in beer was in a book Physica sacra (Sacred World), a book written by a woman by the name of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). A well respected woman of her time, Hildegard von Bingen was a Benedictine abbess, a brew-nun, physician, natural scientist, and an advisor to Emperor Frederick I (a.k.a. Barbarossa). Like Hildegard, this emperor took the quality of beer seriously, eventually leading to his penning of the first known secular beer regulation in Germany dating back to 1156. In the regulation, the emperor mandated that, “a brewer who makes bad beer or pours an unjust measure shall be punished; his beer shall be destroyed or distributed at no charge among the poor.”

Hildegard van Bingen

Hildegard van Bingen

In the centuries that followed, many other strict (and sometimes silly) regulations followed Emperor Frederick I’s, all in an attempt to try to control the quality and also ultimately ensure the safety of the local brews. However, it was not until a few centuries later that a more official law was finally put into place — one that would be recognized as a label of German bier purity and high-quality for centuries to come.

The Reinheitsgebot was put into law on April 23, 1516, initially active only in feudal Bavaria but later finding its place in all of Germany. A simple law, this law stipulated that beer was to be made from only three ingredients: barley, hops, and water (yeast had not yet been discovered). The old days where a number of different substances were added including herbs such as caraway and juniper along with more unexpected additions that today may make some people cringe such as pith, soot, chalk, and hard boiled eggs among others. These were no longer allowed, and could thus no longer be used to improve the flavor of beer, or even worse, to cover up the off flavors of a poorly brewed bier.

This law also firmly planted the roots of hops into German brewing techniques indefinitely. Hops were no longer an option, but were now a standard. Today, the Reinheitsgebot is still in place, acting as the oldest food quality law in Germany that is still active. Acting as it always has and was intended to, the Reinheitsgebot is still a mark of purity that is now recognized the world round as Germany’s label for their high-quality brews.

A German Coat of Arms with a depiction of Hops

A German Coat of Arms with a depiction of Hops

Today, the German mark of purity can even occasionally be found outside of Germany such as in your mugful of Prost Brewing’s finest! Keeping things pure and authentic, Prost Brewing offers a taste of purity that has been cultivated over the centuries.

This calls for a “Prost!” to hops, purity, and all the pleasurable benefits that come with it!

“Prost!”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: