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What Are Noble Hops?

The term noble hops often appears on beer labels and brewpub menus, but what does it mean? It may sound regal and traditional, but the term is actually one used by brokers to sell hops and by brewers to sell beer rather than one that scientists have defined.

Call them noble, call them fine, call them from a good family, but nearly 150 years ago an author surveying the best hops available made it clear that some are more special than others.

P.L. Simmonds wrote in his The Cultivation of Hops in England, Europe, America, Australasia and India that “The hops of Spalt are the best, and the German and French brewers who make beer which has to be kept long are obliged to employ Spalt hops with those of Saaz in Austria, which are the finest and most aromatic hops grown. The products are of a high reputation, and are the Chateau Lafitte, the Cose Vougent, and the Johannisberg (sic), as it were, of hops of continental growths.”

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