Hops: Not Just A Beer Ingredient Essay

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Hops: Not Just A Beer Ingredient

The hop, Humulus lupulus, is a cultivated flowering plant, green in color that has many economically important roles. The hop belongs to the hemp family, Cannabinaceae. There are many features that are distinctive about this plant. A hops plant has yellow lupulin glands between the petals, which is used for preservative and flavoring characteristics in beer. The bitterness of the hop is used to balance the sweetness of the malt, and the essential oils add a flavor and aroma which cannot be achieved by using any other plant. The hop plant is a perennial spiraling vine, which will grow in almost any climate given enough water and sunlight. It can climb either string or poles and can reach height of 40
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The female flowers are in leafy cone-like catkins, called strobiles. When fully developed, the strobiles are about I 1/4 inch long. They are oblong in shape and rounded, consisting of a number of overlapping, yellowish-green bracts attached to a separate axis. If these leafy organs are removed, the axis will be seen to be hairy and to have a little zigzag course. Each of the bracts enfolds at the base revealing a small fruit or achene. Both the fruit and the bract have small, yellow lupulin glands. These are what contain the alpha and beta acids and essential oils, which give each type of hops its characteristic bittering and flavoring properties. (2)

The most valuable hop plants are hybrids, which means that their own seeds do not produce plants that are like wild hops. Therefore, hop plants must be propagated by root cuttings or by the planting of hybrid seedlings. Although there are both male and female plants, the best hops come from fields where only female plants are grown. This prevents seed production, which would detract from the value of the fruit. (1)

The hop can be traced back to a garden plant of the Romans, this first mentioned by Pliny. The origin of the name of the hop genus, Humulus, is derived from humus, the rich moist ground in which the plant grows. The specific name, lupulus, is derived from the Latin word lupus meaning wolf. Pliny states the twining effect of plant growth is similar to the embrace a wolf has on a sheep, The

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