Hops – green gold

Hops is work, a lot of work. There is good reason for the old saying: “Hops wants to see its master daily.”

The Andechs Monastery brewery pays great attention to the quality of its hops and only uses aroma hops from Hallertau.

Exclusive raw material

While hops was still grown in northern Germany during the Late Middle Ages and, until the beginning of the 19th century, south of Passau all the way to the Rhineland, regions ultimately emerged in the 20th century where the climate and especially loamy soil favour the cultivation of high-quality hops. Today hops is grown around Tettnang in Baden-Württemberg and along the Saale and Elbe rivers. Hop growing in Bavaria is concentrated in the Spalt and Hersbruck regions. The Hallertau growing region is of special importance for the Andechs Monastery brewery since it is the source of the Hallertau aroma hops for the seven Andechs Monastery beers. Hallertau with an area of more than 15,000 ha is the world’s largest hops growing region. Compared to the malt, water and yeast, the other ingredients for beer production, hops accounts for a very small proportion of the total quantity. Yet it is comparatively the most expensive raw material. There is a simple reason for this: Caring for hops is a lot of work. According to the association of German hop growers, farmers that cultivate hops spend up to 300 hours per hectare and year caring for the hops.

Only the best of the hops for the beer: the female flower heads

Only the female flower heads of the hops, the umbels, are processed for beer production. They are either pressed into pellets or the ingredients of the umbel are used as an extract. On average, 100 g of hops is needed for 100 litres of beer. The harvest from one hop plant is enough for 400 litres of beer. A hectare of land produces hops for about 15,000 hl of beer, depending on the beer variety. The hops gives the beer its aromatic bitterness and has a bacteriostatic effect, resulting in the natural storage life and a stable foam. It also has a calming effect known from its common use in teas or as a hops pillow.

From hops to bitterness in beer

The content of bittering agents in hops is crucial for its use as a raw material for beer production. These bittering agents differ in their solubility, usability in the brewing process and bitterness. Alpha acid is the key ingredient. It is only weakly bitter and practically insoluble in its natural state. During wort boiling, it is chemically converted to the highly bitter and soluble iso-alpha acid. This is responsible for more than 3/4 of the bitterness in the finished beer. The intensity and aroma spectrum of the hops can be influenced by numerous factors. These include the variety of hops, the hops product, and the quantity and timing of hops addition.

In the Monastery brewery, all of these are closely guarded secrets of our brewing recipes. Together with the malt and the mashing process as well as the yeast and its job of turning sugar to alcohol and CO2 during fermentation, the hops is the third essential characteristic for the taste of a beer. The Andechs Monastery brewery has always placed great emphasis on using local products of the best quality. This is all the more important since we traditionally brew beer with a stronger hops aroma compared to other breweries.

Andechs Monastery Emblem