The bine has made its journey to the heavens and its hop flowers are filling the cool autumn air of Hallertau Germany with sublime floral, earthy and spicy aromas typical of this noble hop growing region.
Andreas Sterler’s family have been farming hops in Northern part of the Hallertau region for three generations. Hop farming areas now span the globe from America to Australia however this particular region is where it all began. First documented in 736 AD. Hallertau is a noble hope growing region and Andreas is their present curator.
Farmers like Andreas are perhaps the most crucial part of the whole hop value chain. Human curatorship and intervention is vital to producing quality raw ingredients as a foundation for brewers around the world to create beer master pieces. Andreas has been dutifully farming Hallertau Tradition, Perle, Hersbrucker Spät, Polaris, Herkules and Mandarina Bavaria for decades. He then sells onto Barth-Haas Group and distributed worldwide. Hop farming is not without its challenges and it takes dedicated and skilled humans to consistently produce crops of high quality in a variable environment.
“One of the biggest challenges is wilt disease”, notes Andreas, which through fungi, bacteria, and nematodes causes rapid killing of plants. Combining this with , “regulations regarding usage of pesticides and fertilizers is getting more and more strict”,explains Andreas.
He is aware that sustainability of farming is key and that methods such as using intermediate crops not only improves soil quality but also longevity of land usage.
The Barth-Haas Group recognised the importance of hop farmers and have invested in a Hops Academy which trains farmers through an extensive range of courses such as irrigation workshops and cultivating techniques. They also acknowledge that demands placed on a hop grower today are becoming more extensive and to be successful it is important to up-skilled on business management, legal frameworks, brewing trends and sustainable farming.
Harvest season is in full tilt and hop farmers of the northern part of Germany are working non stop to harvest the years hop flowers which will continue their journey to all corners of the planet. Andreas and many others are our hop curators and it’s down to their direct efforts, skill and passion that we are able to enjoy world class beers.
Cheers to the Curators.