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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nothing New Under the Sun

If you've read The Beer Bible and were in a generous mood, you might have thought, "Gee, it looks like Jeff did quite a lot of research." Indeed! But one thing you won't see are the hours of research I put into postulates I could never verify. Like this, from page 333:
Breweries learned millennia ago to brew in cool weather, and the most prized ales were made just after harvest. No reference has explicitly distinguished fresh and dried hops, but it seems safe to guess that the practice dates back to the beginning of the hop era. If brewers did make their October beers with fresh hops in the distant past, the practice ended by the industrial age and wasn’t rediscovered until around 1992.
I probably spent a week on those three sentences, trying to find a source that would confirm my assumptions, but I never did. And so the week can only be inferred as I move briskly to the modern era. And now finally, thanks to Ed, we have the goods!
In the book Hops AH Burges quotes from Reynold (Reginald) Scot's A Perfite Platforme of a Hoppe Garden, (complete with olde English spelling):

"Some gather them, and brue with them being green and undryed, supposing that in drying, the vertue and state of the Hoppe decayeth and fadeth awaye..."
The book dates from 1574, and is in fact the earliest book in English written about hops, written 50 years after hops started being cultivated here.

Reg wasn't keen on the idea himself continuing:
"...wherein they are deceyved, for the verdure is woorse, the strength less, and the quantitie must be more of the greene Hoppes that are to be brued in this sort"
One thing I learned writing The Beer Bible is that humans are humans, and if we thought of doing something in the 21st century, there's an almost dead certainty someone thought of doing it in the past hundred decades or so of the hop era. Now we know, and I can breathe a sigh of relief for writing that it was "safe to guess" the practice had antecedents dating back more than 24 years.

Read the book here.

1 comment:

  1. Cheers Jeff, I'd wanted to find this reference again for a long time so was delighted when I finally managed to stumble upon it.