Herb of the Year: Hops
More than a beer Flavor
Most people are totally “bamboozled” as to what hops really are. Hops is an interesting looking ornamental plant, easy to grow, and hardy. They are a very eye-catching vine in the home garden, and an easy plant for the novice gardener. Hops (Humulus) is a member of the Cannabaceae family, yes, that includes cannabis. It
is a native of North America as well as to Europe and southwestern Asia.
Hops is mainly grown and harvested for use in making beer; although traditionally they have been used as a medicinal herb, a spring vegetable, and in many crafts. With their presumed mild soothing effect, hops cones are also used in making calming teas and pillows.
The post-harvest bines are often twisted into holiday wreaths or used to make cloth or paper. Known as a vine, it is technically a “bine.” A bine is a plant that relies on stiff hairs that line its very strong stems to help it climb.
Hops have a slight pine-like aroma, which attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Hops can be grown on trellises, pergolas, arbors and other upright structures.
There are many varieties and each kind impart different characteristics and flavors to beer. If you’re a real connoisseur, you may be able to identify particular hops in different beers. Hops is actually the bitter flavor in beer and has antibacterial properties. Using hops helps keep the beer from spoiling. Some historians believe that hops were first grown as a crop in America during the 1600’s