The Beertender: Get Hip to Hops
Hops are the spice of beer, providing flavor and aroma. They also add bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malt, and they increase the shelf life of the finished beer. Getting to know beer? Get to know hops.
|User "Wildfeuer," Wikimedia Commons|
The cultivation of hops has been traced back to the 8th century in what is now the German state of Bavaria, yet hops weren't used in the production of beer until the 11th century. Before that, and going back to our earliest records, beer was flavored and preserved by an array of herbs, flowers, roots and spices, creating many brews that would be hardly identifiable today. The function of these ingredients was the same, however: flavoring the beer, bittering the malt and preserving the brew.