Writing a manual on hops in 1877, British agricultural authority P.L. Simmonds praised those grown around the town of Spalt in Bavaria. “The products are of a high reputation, and are the Chateau Lafitte, the Clos de Vougent, and the Johannisberg, as it were, of hops of continental growths,” he wrote.
He didn’t offer a long list of adjectives about their flavor, simply stating they were “the finest and most aromatic hops grown.” Spalt Spalter, as they are known today, likely hadn’t changed much since 1511, when the town banned the export of highly sought-after hop cuttings, nor have they since. One difference that Hans Zeiner, manager of the Spalt hop growers association and a farmer himself, has noticed is requests from brewers for hops picked later, so they are richer in essential oils.
“The brewers want different hops. Some want a greener hop; some want a hop that is a bit more mature. It is about the aroma, the aroma they want.” He cautioned against waiting too long. “If it’s too old, the aroma is not so fine anymore. The aroma has changed, but I cannot say how it changed.” In Spalt “fine” seems to be the only adjective necessary.
Stan Hieronymus in the May 2013 issue of All About Beer Magazine