Hops is one of the key ingredients of beer. The type of hops used in the brewing process impacts the beer's bitterness, its aroma, its taste and its storage possibilities. Hops have been cultivated in Belgium for centurie. While, in the past, hop farms were spread geographically around the country, with the regions of aalst-Asse and Poperinge as the main hubs, these days they are mainly concentrated around the town of Poperinge, West-Flanders, and around the towns of Warneton, Maltonne et Vodelée, Wallonia. 23 Belgian hop growers are currently cultivating 181 ha of hops. 18 of these hop growers are located in the greater Poperinge region, where 155 ha of hops are cultivated.
All Belgian hops are grown in family businesses, where the plant has been treated with love, care and expertise for many generations. Hop farmers are therefore truly devoted to their profession and are rightly proud of the results of their efforts: high-quality, Belgian hops.
Belgian hops can be delivered in different forms:
- Hop cones in in gently compressed, square bales type RB60, each weighing 60-80 kg (0.6 x 0.6 x 1,2m);
- Hop pellets type 90;
- Hop extract: CO2 extract, the extraction, itself, is done abroad.
Hoppellets type 90
The dried hop cones are cleaned, dried, hammer-milled into hop powder and then compressed into pellets (ca. 6mm x 10-15mm). From 100kg hop cones, you get 92–95 kg hop pellets. In Poperinge, there are two installations for making type 90 pellets.
On 23 July 1998, the non-profit organization (vzw) ‘Overkoepelende Producentenvereniging (Umbrella Association of the Hop Producers)’ or H.O.P vzw was founded. A representative of Poperinge’s town council holds a seat in the General Assembly.
The organization’s main objectives are:
- promote the hop growers’ interests;
- arrange training events and educational activities for hop growers;
- transfer hops-related know-how to third parties in Belgium and abroad;
- organize activities that conduce to improve the socio-economic and cultural situation of hop growers.
The H.O.P. vzw owns the ‘Belgische hop – Belgian hops’ logo, which is granted to Belgian hops that are produced and controlled under strict conditions. The label confirms the origins and high quality of the hops. Hop growers make great efforts to ensure optimal hop quality. In 2017, they signed a specifications agreement describing the quality requirements they have to meet to be able to use the ‘Belgian hops’ logo when marketing their hops.