Hops are used as a flavouring agent

Hops are the female flower clusters or seed cones of the hop vine Humulus lupulus, which are used as a flavouring and preservative agent in nearly all beer made today. Hops had been used for medicinal and food flavouring purposes since Roman times; by the 7th century in Carolingian monasteries in what is now Germany, beer was being made with hops, though it isn’t until the thirteenth century that widespread cultivation of hops for use in beer is recorded.

Before the thirteenth century, beer was flavoured with plants such as yarrow, wild rosemary, and bog myrtle, and other ingredients such as juniper berries, aniseed and ginger, which would be combined into a mixture known as gruit and used as hops are now used; between the thirteenth and the sixteenth century, during which hops took over as the dominant flavouring, beer flavoured with gruit was known as ale, while beer flavoured with hops was known as beer.

Some beers today, such as Fraoch by the Scottish Heather Ales company and Cervoise Lancelot by the French Brasserie-Lancelot company, use plants other than hops for flavouring.

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