We'd been thinking about it for a while and finally did it. Last March, we bought hop rhizomes to grow next to the brewery.
Today, we've just harvested and we're super excited. So, to mark the occasion, we're telling you all about it.
First, what are hops?With its scientific name, humulus lupulus, hops are a perennial climbing plant in the cannabinaceae family. Yes, that's right, it's the cousin of cannabis. Don't worry, it's perfectly legal. Remember, Whitefrontier pushes you to exceed your limits, but never to break the law ;).
Like its cousin, only the female flowers are used for brewing beer. They contain a small yellow powder, lupulin, which is very useful for preserving and flavouring beer.
Why is it used for brewing?While for a long time hops were used for their conservative and bittering virtues, since the 1980s they have become the icon of the craft movement worldwide. And why is that? Well, because when you use them without heating them to high temperatures (cold hopping), they give the beer an aromatic character. Thanks to its different varieties, your beer can become fruity, floral or herbaceous. At WhiteFrontier, we love it.
Of course, it's not the most important ingredient in a brew. The first ingredient is water, then malt, then hops and yeast.
So, to sum up, hops are used for 3 reasons:
- It has antiseptic properties that help preserve beer.
- Heated, it adds bitterness to balance the recipe.
- Used as an infusion, it is aromatic and makes our favorite beverage fruity, floral or herbaceous.
Who are the world's leading hop producers?Ethiopia is said to be the world's leading hop producer, but we don't buy our hops there. The USA and Germany are two giants when it comes to hops. Europe is generally a good producer, and hops are also found in the Czech Republic, England, France and elsewhere.
But what about Switzerland?
Well, we're not top of the class yet, but there are initiatives. Like at Agroscope in Sion.
The WhiteFrontier hop gardenLast March, we planted Rhizomes on land adjoining the Whitefrontier brewery. Several hop varieties (Chinook, Cascade, Brewer Gold and Spalter Select) grew in the Valais sunshine.
Today, we harvested our first crop. We'll have to wait 3 to 5 years for an optimal yield.
This harvest won't enable us to do without imports, but it's a start, and it may give other Swiss people the idea of getting into green gold.
In any case, we'll soon be brewing a 100% made-in-Switzerland beer. Follow us on Insta to make sure you don't miss its release (although you'll have to wait a little).
Ciao, and don't forget to Craft your life