English Hops were introduced by Flemish farmers who had fled their homeland — a major hop producing area in the High Middle Ages — during the French–English Hundred Years War (1336–1453), but it is not entirely certain when the first hop was cultivated in England. The Flemish settled in Kent in the southeast of England, where, by the mid-16th century, hop cultivation was firmly established. The hop had a hard time getting established in England. By the mid-1400s, ales that were hopped became known as “beer,” whereas only unhopped brews continued to be called ales. In fact, while hops were being legislated into beer on the European Continent, it seems they were being legislated out of beer in the British Isles, notably by King Henry VIII, who in the 1530s—obviously taking time out from his strenuous philandering—forbade the use of hops outright at his court. He considered hops an aphrodisiac that would drive the populace to sinful behavior (such was the pious duplicity of a ruler who managed to go through countless mistresses—not to speak of six wives, two of whom lost their heads in the Tower). Even Samuel Johnson, author of the first Dictionary of the English Language, wrote in his seminal work as late as 1775 that “beer” is a “liquor made from malt and hops,” whereas “ale” is a “liquor made by infusing malt in hot water and fermenting the liquor.” By 1775, however, virtually all British ales were made with hops. Perhaps Johnson should have known better, considering that he wrote much of his Dictionary over pints of hopped ale in an alehouse along the Thames called The Anchor Inn, in London’s Southwark district, just a stone’s throw from the Hop Exchange.
During the hop growing season in England, roughly between April and September, the climate in England is wetter and colder than that of continental Europe, which is why, over centuries, very different cultivars survived the natural selection process in England and became commercial varieties.See french hops and german hops. Various “Golding” types can be traced back to the 1790s and Fuggle was propagated by Richard Fuggle in 1875. See fuggle (hop) and golding (hop). There has been an active hop-breeding program at Wye College in Kent for most of the 20th century, which has led to many recent English varieties. See admiral (hop), bramling cross (hop), brewer’s gold (hop), bullion (hop), northern brewer (hop), pilgrim (hop), and progress (hop). One curiosity that emerged from this program was dwarf hops, which can be grown on low trellises. This greatly reduces both labor costs and losses from wind drift of plant protection sprays. See first gold (hop), hedge hops, and pioneer (hop). Overall, Britain produces not much more than 1% of the world’s hops, but its varieties are very distinctive and favored for traditional British-style ales. They tend to be relatively low alpha compared with the world average. Next to the traditional Kent growing region, English hops are also cultivated in Herefordshire near the border of Wales.
Although modern British brewers are making increasing use of hops from far-flung regions (particularly the United States and New Zealand), British hops remain singular. The overall character of English hops trends to a certain stone-fruit earthiness of aroma that is distinctly different from the more citrus-like notes of New World varieties. Indeed, American craft brewers widely use English hops to help bring those flavors to British-inspired pale ales and bitters. Many British beer enthusiasts, although they appreciate New World hops, cannot imagine a classic British bitter without distinctively English hop aromatics.
Golding (Hop) is a traditional English hop that was first released for commercial cultivation more than a century ago, but it has been famous among brewers since the 1790s. It is named after the grower who developed it. Varieties of this hop are legion and have gone by the names Cobbs, Amos’ Early Bird, Eastwell, Bramling, Canterbury Whitebine, and Mathon. Golding is grown primarily in the counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, and East Kent. It is prized primarily for its aroma, but it can be used for bittering as well. It also makes an excellent hop for dry hopping. Like most of the English hop varieties, Golding exhibits earthy notes as well as a slight spiciness in the aroma. The Golding hop, along with its offshoot East Kent Golding and the princely Fuggle, when married to a full-flavored British barley such as Maris Otter, has set the standard for an unmistakable, classic English ale flavor. Alpha acids in Golding may range from 4% to 7.0% and beta acids from 2% to 2.8%; the average cohumulone content may be about 28%. Humulene averages 45%. In the United States, Golding has been planted from Canterbury Golding stock, with some success, since 1995, but the characteristic English earthiness diminished and the hop’s fruitiness increased. Golding is sensitive to various fungal infections, including downy and powdery mildew as well as verticillium wilt. Despite these drawbacks, Golding acreage has increased because of demand. Golding produces moderate average yields of almost 1,675 kg/ha (roughly 1,500 lb/acre). Depending on growing conditions, it can reach maturity anywhere from early to late in the season and stores well.
Whitbread Goldings Varierty (WGV)
Deze variëteit ontstond omstreeks 1911 door een open bestuiving van een oude hopvariëteit (Bates's Brewer) die groeide op een boerderij in Beltring, Kent (UK). Later werd deze variëteit gekocht door de Whitbread Beer Company.
Deze variëteit is één van de meest geteelde variëteiten in Engeland, werd ontwikkeld in het Wye College (Kent, UK) en op de markt gebracht in 1992. Target stamt af van Northern Brewer en Eastwell Golding, je zou hem dus een neef van Challenger kunnen noemen.
Target is een dual purpose hop; hij wordt zowel als bitterhop gebruikt tijdens het koken, als aromahop na het koken. Dankzij een relatief hoog gehalte aan alfazuren kan Target voor een aangename bitterheid zorgen, tegelijk wordt hij ook gebruikt met het oog op een specifiek en buitengewoon hoparoma.
Target (Hop), also known as Wye Target, is an English bittering hop that was released for commercial cultivation in 1972. It was developed by Dr Ray Neve of Wye College in 1965 from Northern Brewer and Eastwell Golding. See eastwell golding (hop), northern brewer (hop), and wye college. Because of the catastrophic effect of verticillium wilt on Fuggle plantings in Kent in the early 1970s, there was a great demand for wilt-resistant, high-alpha-acid varieties at the time. Developing such a hop was the “target” of the breeding program, and Wye Target was the result. Target has an alpha acid content of 11%, which makes it very suitable as a bittering hop, although some brewers also like the hop’s floral notes, especially during dry hopping. See dry hopping. This hop also has an unusually high geraniol oil content, which results in a floral flavor. Target can be used for almost all beer styles, although it is considered too harsh for light lagers. It is particularly popular as a bittering hop for stouts and porters. After its release in 1972, it soon made up about half of all hop plantings in the UK. It has since declined somewhat in popularity but is still today the third most widely grown hop in the UK. One of the hop’s drawbacks is its relatively low stability in storage, which also makes it difficult to schedule for pelleting.
Wye College, officially The College of St. Gregory and St. Martin at Wye, was established by John Kempe, Archbishop of York, as a seminary in 1447. Wye College developed an outstanding reputation as a center for rural and agronomy studies over centuries to eventually become an independent School of Agriculture, which affiliated to the University of London in 1898.
The site near Ashford covers 400 ha, including a 320-ha farm with woodland and glasshouses and two sites of special scientific interest. In 2000 the college merged with Imperial College of the University of London, but activities declined because of financial difficulties and the college is now being relaunched as PhoenixWyeCollege in collaboration with the University of Buckingham.
Because of its location in the center of Kent, Wye College specialized in hop research and during the later part of the 20th century developed many novel varieties including Northern Brewer, Challenger, and Brewers Gold. Some varieties such as Target and Yeoman were developed for increased yield of alpha acid, whereas others showed improved disease resistance.
More recently, Dr Ray Neve and Dr Peter Darby of Wye pioneered the major development of dwarf hops based on finding a mutant plant with reduced internode length. Dwarf hops provide a major advance in growth and harvesting efficiencies and have promise to greatly improve the efficiency of hop production. To a large extent, in its heyday Wye College was widely viewed as being virtually synonymous with English hop research, breeding, and development.
Hop research has transferred to other locations such as Wye Hops Ltd in Canterbury, but the advances made at Wye provided the brewing industry with major hop varieties that are still in popular use today by commercial and amateur brewers.