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Friday, September 3, 2010

Wed 1st Sept 2010 - Ventnor Botanical Gardens.

This week the Green Gym was at Ventnor Botanic Gardens, helping Trish with the hop picking. About forty of us were stretched out in long lines and filling the large buckets which had been provided for us. Happily for several of the Green Gymmers they actually got to sample some of the beer which had been made earlier. Judging by the laughter coming from the end of the field, it was definitely going down well.

Hops are the female flower clusters (commonly called seed cones or strobiles) of a hop species. They are used primarily as a flavouring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavour, although they are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine. Hops were cultivated continuously around the 8th or 9thcentury AD in Bohemian gardens in Bavaria and other parts of Europe. However, the first documented use of hops in beer as a bittering agent is from the eleventh century. Prior to this period brewers used a wide variety of bitter herbs and flowers. Dandelion, burdock root, marigold, horehound, ground ivy and heather were often used prior to the discovery of hops. They are used extensively in brewing for their many purported benefits, including balancing the sweetness of the malt with bitterness. Historically it is believed that traditional herb combinations for ales were abandoned when it was noticed that ales made with hops were less prone to spoilage. The hop plant is a vigorous climbing herbaceous perennial, usually trained to grow up strings in a field when grown commercially.

Many thanks to Carrie for the text & photographs and a big thank you from me to all the people who signed the get well card for me.......I hope to be back with you all soon.

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