Sunday, October 10, 2010
Humulus lupulus--Common Hop--Cannabaceae
Humulus lupulus is native to Europe, but other species are native to North America, South America, and Asia. Hop is in the same family as marijuana, and like marijuana, it is psychoactive, just not so strong. It makes people feel sleepy and relaxed. Seems like it is a good thing to add to alcohol, because alcohol can sometimes cause people to become violent. Beer is just better!
The hops adds flavor to beer and adds a calming element to the drink. It is also a preservative and keeps the beer from going bad. Even a beer with a low alcohol content can keep for a long time if it is flavored with hops.
Hop is a vine, hops are the female flower clusters used to flavor beer for thousands of years. Currently, crops are grown in Asia, Australia, Europe and the western US. The flowers are dried before being used in brewing.
Mostly hops are used in beer. But they are also used in soft drinks in Sweden and Latin America. A hops pillow is sometimes used for insomnia since hops can make people feel sleepy and relaxed. It is used in some deodorants to kill bacteria. And the dried flowers are decorative and can be used in a bouquet or wreath.
The young shoots of the hop plant can be eaten as a vegetable. The spears are eaten much like asparagus. If you want to grow hops or use hops, just look online. Many different products are available.
Beer was first made thousands of years ago, and the use of hops is hundreds of years old. It is a product of enduring appeal.