Hops in the Pint – a 1930s Look

A Polish Journal Surveys World Hop Usage



The Piwowarsko Slodowniczy, or Brewing and Malting Review, was issued between the wars by the Polish Brewers’ Association. The Sept. 1936 issue sets out a beer production and hop usage table for numerous countries in 1935-1936 (p. 69):



Even non-specialists in brewing or beer history can see at a glance countries’ varying preferences regarding beer bitterness.

Czechoslovakia for example used 300 gr. of hops per hl of beer. Ireland, the largest consumer, an impressive 750 gr., against Britain’s 500.

Of course, each style of beer, in each country, required different amounts of hops, and for different purposes, e.g. aroma vs. bittering. Boiling times varied too, as now.

Still, alpha acid levels were more uniform in the 1930s. Many varieties today, like Galena, feature high values and are more efficient, therefore, than lower-alpha hops.

The table was still instructive, which is why the editors included it, every year.

Why is Ireland so high? Because its output was mainly porter and bitter stout, reflecting the high hop usage inherited from the 19th century. Britain was focusing by then on lower-gravity bitter and and mild ale, which used less hops.



Britain still outpaced the Continent, which traditionally used less hops for its lager. A couple of Scandinavian countries used the least, an illustration of the comparatively mild style of their lager.

Canada stands up pretty well, 375 gr. vs. America’s 255 – our pale ale vs. their lager, broadly speaking.

Today, on average craft beer might use 1.5 lbs (U.S.) per 31 gal. barrel, or 680 gr./bbl.

31 gal. = 117 litres, so roughly 575 gr. per hl. Ireland’s old school brewing still bested that, and Britain’s was not much lower, even as its beer (then) was lower gravity than most craft beer.

On the other hand, alpha acid content is higher for many varieties today, so it may even out for Ireland.



In the source linked (via Wielkopolska Library), other issues of the journal are available, see at bottom of page. I found dozens for that period.

Images above are from the same (Sept. 1936) issue. Chmielu is hops. Slod is malt, different kinds are advertised, wheat malt too.

See a fine display of prewar Grodziskie labels, in Polish Beer Labels. 

The brewery clearly had an active maltster business as well.

The syndicate in the last image was a hop growers association, marketing hops of the Lublin type, well-regarded then as now. The variety is related to the choice Saaz of Bohemia.









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