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Did You Know? Hop Edition

Hops are flavorful flowers added to beer to produce unique flavors and balance the sweetness of malt with bitterness. They are part of a family called Cannabaceae, and are cousins to hemp and marijuana.

The first documented hop cultivation was in 736 in the Hallertau region of Germany, and the first use in brewing was in 1079.

Hops were initially added to beer for their antiseptic properties and to prevent beer from spoiling.

Around the 13th century, hops started to threaten the use of gruit to add bitterness to beer.  Gruit is an herbal mixture that was widely used to flavor and add bitterness to beer.

The US produces about 28,000 tonnes of hops a year, and around 60% of U.S. hops are exported to breweries worldwide.

Hop growing had a major social impact. The labor intensive harvesting work involved a lot of migrant workers traveling to work the annual hop harvest. Families, including small children, would work and live in hopper huts around the world, including Kent county in England.

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