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25l. or 30l. per acre is the ordinary cost of raising a crop in a garden that has been some years formed, and has come into full bearing. Then the hops must be picked, dried, and bagged, and, till within the current year, must satisfy the exciseman's demand, at a cost of 21. for every cwt. The above outlay is altogether exclusive of the rent of the land, which in some instances is as much as 26l. per acre, and of the extraordinary tithe, which may amount to il. 10s. or 21. Add to all this, in the words of an old writer, that the hope of the profit and 'gains arising by a hop garden sometimes so pleaseth and flattereth a man's conceit, whose vein and humour is such that he will
employ more ground than he can keep or maintain, and through 'greediness of his desire overthrow his whole purposé,'—and it will be admitted that the hop grower plays a very hazardous game. Suppose, however, that he rises a winner; he not improbably finds that his neighbours have heavy crops as well as himself, — that there are more hops in the market than the brewers require, and that the price to be obtained does not cover the expenses incurred. If he be a man of capital, he may think he will hold; but as prolific seasons frequently follow in cycles, it is likely enough the same results may ensue next year; moreover, hops deteriorate by keeping, till at the end of a few years they become as worthless as so much chaff. As a last resource, the owner may, or might till within the last month, perjure himself by swearing they are marketable, export them for the sake of recovering the duty in draw back, and throw the once costly commodity into the German Ocean. The alternations of glut and of dearth to which, in the case
crop so precarious, and an article so perishable, any country confined to its own resources is exposed, naturally call for the utmost freedom of exchange between different states. Prohibitory or protective duties have, for two centuries and a half, precluded England from fully availing herself, when her own produce has been deficient, of the surplus of her neighbours. Accordingly, in seasons of scarcity our brewers have been driven to the use of substitutes more or less injurious, or, as we believe the general practice of the trade has been, to brew with fewer hops, or with stale hops that have lost their virtue.
The recent establishment of free trade now leads us to look with some interest at other hop-growing countries. Respecting these much valuable information is to be found in the Evidence taken by the Select Committee on the Hop Duties in 1857.
The average crop of the European continent is about equal to that of England, and appears liable to similar fluctuations from year to year, in respect both of quantity and of quality.
Statistical tables, compiled by the Agricultural Society of Bavaria in 1860, show how wide are the ordinary limits of variation in the annual yield of different countries.* We may here add, that the North American continent produces annually from 30,000 to 60,000 cwt., while the annual consumption of its inhabitants is supposed to be 50,000 cwt. Nor are fluctuations in prices less extreme in other parts of Europe than in England. In Belgium the average market-price of the year's produce has, within the last ten years, ranged from 11.8s. to 141. per cwt. In Bavaria, according to Mr. Bonar, the price usually varies from 31. 5s. to 161. 10s. per cwt. In the autumn of 1860, however,
. the current price rose to the unparalleled sum of 370 florins, or about 311. per Bavarian cwt.
Of the hop-growing countries of Europe, the most important to us, as sources of supply, are Belgium and Bavaria. The area under cultivation in the latter, the classic land of beer, is estimated at 26,000 acres, an extent about equal to the plantations of the county of Kent. The two great centres of production are Spalt and Hersbruck, the former lying a few hours south-east of Nuremberg, the latter some seventeen miles north-west of that city. Of these Spalt occupies the first rank.
Extensive plantations exist at Aischgrund, and at Hallertau, a district approaching the Danube. The whole valley of the Maine, from Bamberg to Wurzburg, is also favourable for the growth of hops.
As at Farnham and at Maidstone, so at Spalt and at Hersbruck, there are limited districts immediately adjoining the town, which are among hop plantations what the grounds of Laffitte or of Johannisberg are among vineyards. Their produce is known as Spalt City, or Hersbruck City, hops. Inclusive of these, the choicest growths, about one-third of the erop raised in Bavaria may be considered of first-rate quality, rivalling the best Kentish or Farnham produce. No actual test has determined their comparative merits, but the prevalent opinion seems to be, that the South German hops have the finest bitter, while inferior to the British in body, flavour, and
* COUNTRIES. FULL Crop. SHORT Crop, COUNTRIES. Full CROP. Short CROP.
70,000 cwt. Carried for-
Alsace and 15,000 Lorraine S
313,000 cwt. 135,000 ewt.
preserving power. Qualities differ as with us, but the only distinct varieties recognised are, the early hop, picked in September, and the late hop, gathered in October. Of these the later hop is esteemed the most powerful, and realises the highest price.
The land is principally in the hands of peasant proprietors, and under the Code Napoleon, which obtains in Bavaria, the holdings are, on the death of the head of a family, sold or subdivided. Consequently, except in the city districts, little money is expended on the cultivation, but much time and manual labour is devoted to the garden by the owner and his family. Owing probably to the more genial summers, the plant attains proportions which would in England be deemed gigantic. Hence the larch-poles, chiefly used in Bavaria, not unfrequently exceed forty feet, or double the length of the tallest poles employed in England. The Bavarian farmer puts only one pole to a hill instead of three, as is the usual practice of Kent and Sussex; his hills are, as a rule, farther apart, he manures less, sometimes contenting himself with restoring to the soil the old hop-bines, and is satisfied with a smaller yield per acre than his British competitor. The hops being thus less crowded, enjoy that • largenesse of space through which the Sunne may come to give
comfort to every plant,' which Markham *, so long ago as 1638, recommended as calculated to improve the flower, and render it less liable to blight. If blight make its appearance, the German planter does not hesitate, in order to check its progress, to thin his plantation by removing a number of poles. We commend this bold practice to the notice of the planters of East Kent, who, according to the evidence of several witnesses before the Committee, have of late, by largely manuring, increased their average produce to the detriment of its quality. Indeed it is not improbable that open competition with the South German growers will induce English planters generally to direct their attention to the goodness, rather than to the weight, of
Hop-picking, so picturesque a spectacle in England, presents a far less attractive scene in Germany. There the poles are taken down, the bine is hastily stripped from them, and then removed to be picked at leisure at the planter's house. This, in Walter Blith's time, was a new and improved method of gathering: the older practice, still followed by some continental growers, had been to cut the bine at the foot, and then, with a fork, to take it off the standing pole.
* Markham's Farewell to Husbandry. 1638.
figures in Elizabethan costume are represented thus engaged in the vignettes to Scot's · Perfite Platforine.' In Germany, and still more in Bohemia, the result of the course pursued but too often is that the hops are, before picking, dragged about, thrust into stables, cow-houses, cellars, kitchens, or bedrooms, and maltreated and injured in divers ways. When fairly used, they are spread over the floors of lofts, or hung up in the high sloping roofs, where air and warmth may have access to them. In fine weather they are thus dried in about three days, and then loosely thrust into coarse sacks. The above is the only drying they receive at the hands of the peasants. If bought by merchants, particularly if for exportation, they are conveyed to a town and dried in kilns. This process is said to be defective, inasmuch as the draught is not quick enough, and the damp is suffered to hang in the hops so long, that they are, in a manner, stewed. In the opinion, however, of some persons, the English method of drying subjects the hops to too violent a heat, or, as one merchant expresses it, roasts them, thereby destroying the aroma, and is even more injurious than the Bavarian treatment.
It is well known that the making of beer and the drinking of beer form two of the most important occupations of the Bavarian people, and the legislation on the subject of beer one of the chief cares of the Bavarian Government. We do not say, with a recent English traveller, that the whole nation are perpetually drunk upon malt liquor, but the quantity consumed is prodigious. Water, say the Bavarians, never was fit for human stomachs,- at all events, has not been since the Flood :besides, the drinking of fermented liquors constitutes a specific difference between men and animals :
"Vina bibunt homines, animalia cætera fontes.' Although no brewery can exist but by the special authority of government, there are no less than 10,723 such establishments in the country, and Mr. Bonar is no doubt under the mark in estimating the quantity of beer annually poured down Bavarian throats at 100,000,000 English gallons. One-eighth of the
. whole revenue of the state is derived from a malt duty of 1ls, a quarter. The king himself is the first brewer in the land, and most of the great proprietors belong to the same privileged and influential class. Government fixes the price of beer twice a year, according to the value of malt and hops, and as the time approaches when the cost of this necessary of Bavarian life is to be determined for the ensuing summer or winter, the public mind is gravely, often painfully, excited.
The process of brewing differs from that carried on in England, principally in the low temperature at which the worts are fermented. This system is much recommended by Liebig, as preventing the beer from turning sour. The summer beer, brewed for home consumption, is kept six months, or even longer
, before it is used, but commonly in deep rock-cellars, and often surrounded with ice. Yet Bavarian beer does not bear exportation. There are only two peculiar kinds capable of bearing a sea voyage, of both of which His Majesty is the chief and best brewer. These are known as the Salvador and the Bock. The Bock, so called from its being strong enough to butt a man down, or from its making him leap like a buck, is of two sorts, single and double. With these exceptions, all the beer destined for exportation beyond seas, and even most of that sent to France and other parts of the Continent, is brewed expressly for the purpose. Bavarian malt is excellent, some of the finest in Europe being grown between Nuremberg and Munich. The public taste is, as might be expected, most fastidious in regard to hops, and, after Bavarians, considers none but those of Wurtemberg and Baden, or the best Buhemians, worthy of the palate of a connoisseur. English hops, fumigated with sulphur, to give them the bright yellow colour which the fashion of the trade at home requires, have an evil reputation in Munich. Sulphured hops are an abomination to the Bavarians; the use of them is prohibited, and the brewer on whose premises any such are found incurs a heavy penalty, A paternal government does not, however, feel itself called upon to care for the health of others than its own subjects, and sulphured hops, if intended for exportation, are exempt from the confiscation to which in other cases they are liable.
The produce of the other hop.growing districts of South Germany is much akin to that of Bavaria, and the cultivation and method of curing are similar. The very best Bohemians are raised at Saaz; they equal the Spalt hops in price, and are by some English pale ale brewers preferred, on account of their delicate flavour, to the best Bavarians. South German hops are exported to Vienna, France, Italy, England, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Russia, but in what quantities we are unable to state with any certainty. Bavaria itself has been estimated to require a minimum of 50,000 cwt. a year for internal consumption, and to export the surplus produce, which on an average of years may equal 45,000 or 50,000 cwt. The continental demand is an increasing one, but the cultivation of all except the best descriptions of hops is believed to admit of extension. Indeed, in Baden, and probably elsewhere, owing to high prices recently