The Forbidden Hops

The Forbidden Hops

0 4 months ago

Well, no.

However, many have tried to strengthen the news during the last few centuries, growing the molehill of the myth into a mountain of false information, lacking evidence and unsupported claims.
Firstly, a petition was mentioned in 1653, about (besides from the smell of Newcastle coal) hops spoiling the taste of drink. The situation was repeated in a decade, when Thomas Fuller wrote that a petition was presented in parliament against “the wicked weed called hops”. Fuller was cited many times - from 1794 through 1856 and 1911 to even 1998, when the term “pernicious and wicked weed” was repeated times and times again.
The truth, however, lies elsewhere. Even in 1843, Albert Wat wrote that there was “no record of the prohibition” and this so-called petition “does not appear on the Rolls of Parliament”.

But where does the myth come from then?

It seems that the whole misunderstanding roots in the English distinction between beer and ale. Beer, as a hopped drink brought into the country by immigrants from mostly Germany and the Low Countries (for those not that familiar with European geography: the Low Countries consists of mostly the area of today’s Netherlands, Belgium, and the deltas of the Rhines, Meuse, Sheldt and Ems rivers) was in the 15th century on its way to be the main malted beverage drunk in England. Thus, a goal of distinction was born, which aimed to keep the ale-brewing guilds intact from the influence of beer brewers.
However, the keeping of this distinction did not include a general forbidding of the use of hops. Simply ale was “good, wholesome and perfect” without hopping, thus various authorities forbade ale brewers (still separated from beer brewers) the use of hops or brimstones (which is sulphur - and which indicates that the main reason for the distinction was from the direction of the beverage’s taste).
But beer was not even an inferior thing. Henry VIII also had a beer brewer (apart from an ale brewer) in his court, with his time’s most foreigner employees, and even the Tudor army was supplied regularly with beer. Even one of Henry VIII’s commanders noted that in an occasion, when the soldiers have not received beer for 10 days it was “strange for English men”.