History of hops farming

Hops were known as wild growing plant in antiquity. Its use as a cultured plant appears only in the Middle Ages.

At the beginning, hops were used as herbal curative. This is proven by numerous records in old herbaria. Flavouring and conservation of barley beer was first practiced by eastern Slavs. Czech hops industry has a long and storied tradition. Historical records about growing hops go back to the 11th century. Written records about establishment of Czech abbeys from 1086, 1092 and 1100 confirm that even then hops were cultivated in Bohemia and the abbeys were always brewing good beers. According to written records, hops were exported from Bohemia at the beginning of the second millennium into the neighbouring countries. Equally in Moravia, hops’ growing was expanded already in the 13th century.

Hops cultivation has really grown under the rule of King Charles IV, who was well aware of the excellent quality of the Bohemian hops. This is substantiated with the ban on exports of Bohemian hop plants under the penalty of death. During the ensuing centuries, hop growing in Bohemia and Moravia varied between more and less successful. These times were mostly related to economic and political situation in Europe.

During the 20th century, the growth of Czech hop industry is that of Doc. Dr. Ing. Karel Osvald, who provided the hop research with its initial solid footing.

Today, hops cultivation in the Czech Republic is divided into three areas. In Bohemia, these are the Saaz and Auscha regions and in Moravia, it is the Tršice region. The greatest growing area is taken by the traditional “Saaz fine aroma hops”. From 1987, new Czech-developed hops’ hybrids are also being cultivated.

Czech hops are without a doubt an agricultural commodity with the longest tradition. Perhaps there is no one in the brewing and the hop industry, who does not know Czech hops, represented by the Saaz fine aroma hops. The optimum composition of bitter and aromatic substances of this variety gives beer its specific pleasant bitterness. Its basic characteristic is the very fine hop aroma. The quality of the hop aroma depends not only on the genetic origin of the variety but also on the unique climatic and soil conditions of our hop growing regions.