Brewing Britain

When I first received this book I thought that reviewing it would be a doddle; My wife’s uncle is a horticulturist who specialised in hop growing and processing during the 50s and 60s at the Greenmount Agricultural College. However my plan backfired because every paragraph he read sent him into reveries and he would recount in extraordinary detail the time he spent working with Ireland’s last commercial hop growers.

This was all well and good, but it wasn’t going to get the book reviewed.

The book combines the history with the chemistry of the hop. It starts by discussing the aroma of hops and an in-depth view of the odour compounds found in hop oils. It then goes on to examine the perception of aroma and how it varies from person-to-person. All the way through the information is backed up with data and examples (all easily understood by a hop novice like me).

Then follows the history and a travelogue; touring the hop growing regions of the world, exploring the origin of many of the popular (and more obscure) varietals. There are colourful descriptions of the festivals and celebrations that still take place today as well as tourist attractions such as museums and farms.

Of course the book contains a lot of technical data. There are chapters devoted to the cultivation of hops and hybridisation; the picking and storage; the utilisation of hops in the brewing process to the point that Dry Hopping gets a chapter all to itself. Then there is the core of the book- the data sheets describing all the hop varietals with descriptions, classification and breakdown of oil content with data regarding alpha and beta acids, cohumulone, total oil and percentage breakdown of the four main hydrocarbons.

The book finishes with a series of recipes of some well known beers giving an insight into what hops were used, at what point in the brewing and discussions with the actual brewers themselves about their beer

All through the book there are anecdotes, advice and stories from well-known figures of brewing such as Jim Koch (Boston Beer Company), Brett Joyce (Rogue Ales) and Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.) This is a very aptly titled book; the author clearly has a love of hops and that shines through his immersive writing. It is one of those ‘easy to pick up, hard to put down’ kind of books. Throughout it is an expert technical reference as well as a detailed and thoughtful guide to hops and its culture.

I would recommend this book; not only to people who are into brewing for themselves but also for anyone who has an interest in good beer and are seeking a deeper understanding of what exactly is going on in their glass.

  • Title: For The Love Of Hops
  • Author: Stan Hieronymus
  • Publisher: Brewers Publications as part of the Brewing Elements Series