Exploring the history of the Wisconsin Hop Craze

Monday, July 31, 2017

No matter where you look today, as we get smarter about making food choices, we see the movement back to real food.

Whether it’s called whole, sustainable, locally sourced or fresh, it’s a good thing. Included in this renaissance of better living is the explosion of craft beer options. And part of craft beer is a spicy little rhizome called a hop.

Rhizomes are underground stem systems that put out shoots that migrate upward to create vines. Robust perennials, hop vines are capable of growing up to 12 inches a day under ideal conditions.

First appearing as a salad option nearly two thousand years ago in Egypt, they were cultivated in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands as one of four allowable ingredients defined in the German Beer Purity Laws of 1516; the others being water, barley and yeast.

England’s golden age of hop growing spanned the 1800s when the iconic oast houses of Kent appeared and advertised the success of the industry. An oast house or hop kiln was a building designed for kilning or drying hops as part of the brewing process. Beautiful examples of vernacular architecture, they were found in most hop-growing areas and today are used as homes in Kent, Surrey and East Sussex.

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