Jump. Full name, humulus lupulus. It is a climbing plant, sensitive, which grows to more than six meters, of European origin, where it balances with the temperate climate and more than 15 hours of light on the face in the best days.
You may know hops as the flower, which is primarily responsible for the aroma and bitterness of beer, which also contains malt, water and yeast.
What about Brazilian hops? Well, until a few years ago talking about Brazilian hops was like mentioning curupira, AND Varginha or Blondie from the bathroom. Pure urban legend. However, this story (that of hops) gradually changed.
This week German Princess Braza Hops, from Black Princess, hits the market, the first launch of Grupo Petrópolis made from 100% Brazilian hops, from Teresópolis (Rio de Janeiro) – the group is best known in São Paulo for Itaipava, Cacildis and Petra beers, which even sponsors the Belas Artes cinema.
This is not exactly the first experience with our beloved vine. European immigrants have been planting their small crops for centuries. The game started to get more serious in the Serra da Mantiqueira region, when a farm managed to develop a slightly larger quantity and teamed up with Baden Baden, from Campos do Jordão. With Mantiqueira hops, the brewery even launched some experiments in 2014. In 2017, it launched a German marzen. And last year, he even took experimental collaborations to show at the Mondial de la Bière festival.
The hops used by the Petrópolis group, however, were said to have been the first to gain approval from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Mapa). The plantation is a partnership with Viveiro Ninkasi and all the development has gone through the Centro Cervejeiro da Serra, which belongs to the group.
“We have been cultivating since 2018 in Teresópolis. Planting started out small, with just over 300 plants; we now have more than three hectares set aside for planting hops, with more than 7,000 plants, ”says Diego Gomes, industrial director of Grupo Petrópolis, who praises all the work of Teresa Yoshiko, owner of the nursery, as well as the menu.
Hop plantation in Teresópois, partnership between Viveiro Ninkasi and Centro Cervejeiro da Serra – Disclosure
Despite celebrating this achievement, Gomes recalls that there is still a lot to develop to plant growth in the region. “Two universities, in addition to Viveiro, are working to make this hops stronger to the point of becoming interesting for the micro-producer in the Teresópolis region. It’s a region that already has a family agroeconomy, ”he says.
“According to data from Aprolúpulo (Brazilian hop growers association), there are around 150 associated growers, many of them with cultivars of American origin such as Cascade, Columbus, Yakima, Comet. In 2018, the State of Rio de Janeiro stood out for presenting values above 9% alpha acid (responsible for the bitterness of beer) ”, explains Duan Ceolla, authority on hops and professor at the ‘Escola Superior de Cerveja e Malta, in Blumenau.
“During the last harvest, in March, we had the honor of welcoming Germans from the Hallertau region in Bavaria, the largest continuous hop area in the world, to the farm. They were very impressed with the experience of our harvest, ”says Gomes.
The group director recalls that the path to adapting the plant to Brazilian soil has not been easy. Historically, hops do well in temperate climates, such as European or American (which have had such expressive results that it has created an American brewing school, in large part due to the plant’s unique performance in the American soil).
“When we take a plant from one place and bring it to another, it takes away genetic memory. So she tends to behave where she was and time will tell if she will stay the same or not. If you have another plant next to the hop plant, it will absorb the characteristics. Soil is important. We are still learning a lot. “
The Petrópolis group uses around 350 tonnes of hops per year (the projection is expected to reach 380 tonnes in 2021), imported to much of four countries: Germany, the United States, the Czech Republic and Australia. The first harvest of the national hop yielded 800 kilograms. So this may seem like a small step for the brewing world, but it’s great news for the local Humulus Lupulus.
Braza Hops has more herbal characteristics, according to Gomes, which pairs very well with German pilsner, a style chosen for the project. Only in the long-necked version, the beer is in a limited edition (there are 2000 units) and is sold exclusively through the group’s e-commerce (bomdebeer.com.br), for R $ 12.90.
Lohn makes lager with Santa Catarina hops
Another recent launch with national hops is Green Bally (green belly, in Portuguese), a hop lager from the Lohn brewery (from Lauro Muller, SC).
In this case, the hop from the Hildegarda project is used, located in the town of Lages, in the Santa Catarina mountain range, and within Cervejaria Santa Catarina, of the Ambev group. The label was launched in August, also in a limited edition.
Black Princess Braza Hops Label, For Sale Through Ecommerce Only – Disclosure