Females only!

posted Dec 23, 2010, 8:22 AM by Roy More   [ updated Jan 15, 2011, 8:20 AM ]
This may not be what you think, yes its a tease headline, but it is VERY relevant to Belgian brewers and their beers. Ever wonder why Belgian beers produce that wonderful foam head and lacy after flow as it settles? Why don't the English ales do this? Well, it has to do with the headline.

As an historical hops growing region, the Belgians are quite picky about their hops. So much so that they only use female hops. Why? Because then they know there will be no polination and thus no seeds in the hops. It is chemicals in the seeds that reduce the formation of the head of foam. The English do not make this refinement and thus their beers do not produce the same amount of head.

The above picture is cropped from the larger picture below of Henrich Leroy, co-owner and brewmaster of Brewery Van Eecke located in the hops growing region of Belgium. Henrich, here seen with Jeff, is one of the judges for the hop harvest that rates and classifies the quality of the hops. Think what this intimate knowledge of hops brings to their beers. (If it wasn't for the dumb Coke glass, I'd have done a close-up of the Hommelbier glass with the ideal, lacy foam from the head settling. Click on the image and you can zoom in. I want some just looking at it.) "Hommel" is a regional word for "hops" although in other parts of the country it can mean hummingbird.

The Belgians take their hops seriously.In their growing region the streets are marked with brass, hop emblazened, medallions.

They have a museum dedicated to it. This large museum, is based in a former hop house. A building designed for the processing of hops. The most important varieties they grow are are Target, Magnum, Challenger and Golding.