Visiting German Hop Farms in the Hallertau Region
Last week Verdant's Rich and James travelled to Munich to attend the huge drinks expo, Drinktec. Felix from ProHops reached out, asking if we fancied a tour of the Hallertau region to visit some German family farms during hop harvest, rub some hops and get a taste for what that region is all about. So this is exactly what we did!
The Hallertau region is located just north of Munich, in southern Germany. This area produces about 1/3rd of the worlds hops with a focus primarily on the older landrace varieties such as Mittlefrüh and Hersbrucker. Within the region there are nearly 900 hop farms varying in size from 10 hectares up to 120 or so. (this is all in stark contrast to the Pacific North West of America where farms regularly reach the 1000 hectare mark!)
The Hallertau is a gently undulating mixture of forrest, corn fields and pocket after pocket of hop farms, each neatly nestled just so. The farmers we met were the latest in their lineage to take hold of the hop batten with their families connection dating back 300+years to the world of hops on those very same fields. The farms of Florian, Markus, Martin and Hans were truly a family effort with every household member involved during the 4 weeks harvest period.
Florian’s Hersbrucker hop was being harvested that day, so we got to rub both fresh and kilned versions of it...and it was amazing! Spicy, herbal, resinous but also really fruity and pungent. He showed us around the processing plant all housed within a wooden barn his grandad built. This is the definition of cottage industry. He then walked us around the bales (the kilned hops get baled into 60kg bales) and explained how they have core samples sent off for analysis...handily though the holes left behind allowed us to have a good old rub of Pearle, Mittlefrüh and Hallertau Blanc. The Blanc in particular was amazing.
It was a great experience and we felt very lucky being invited. Big thanks to Felix from ProHops for organising our visit!