A moment in the history of Taiwan's craft brewing: local hop beer was officially born! Flowers brew soft and fruity aromas, as well as mountain village vision.

Published: 2024-06-24 Author: mysheen
Last Updated: 2024/06/24, A moment in the history of Taiwan's craft brewing: local hop beer was officially born! Flowers brew soft and fruity aromas, as well as mountain village vision.

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The historic moment of Taiwan craft beer: Taiwan hops beer comes out! Tsai Chien-fu, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environment at Donghua University, planted hops in Hualien Luoshao last year, hoping to solve the problem of human-animal conflict in alpine agriculture. Beitou, a local craft brewing beer company, used these Luoshao hops and domestic barley malt this year to produce 200 liters of draft beer.

Song Peihong, co-founder and brewer of Beer head, says that hops are one of the necessary elements for brewing beer, but hops have not been planted on a large scale in Taiwan in the past. This time, the wine damage after brewing is much lower than expected. And the resulting beer has a soft citrus aroma. "the four major elements of brewing beer are finally related to Taiwan. This is definitely a historic moment in Taiwan's craft beer industry."

Cai Jianfu (left), associate professor of Donghua University, works with beer head brewer Song Peihong to brew beer with domestic hops for the first time (photo / Lin Yijun)

To solve the conflict between humans and beasts, they planted hops.

The relationship between Cai Jianfu and Luoshao began with Dong Xiao. At first, because he liked the sound of Xiao, he went up the mountain to Luoshao to look for bamboo, but he saw the local people and animals engaged in alpine agriculture clash: farmers in order to protect peaches, baby vegetables, cabbage and watermelon plums, use sky cannons and monkey nets to drive away macaques and mountain pigs, and even use beasts and sticks.

Seeing such a human-animal conflict, Tsai Jianfu began to think about the possibility of resolving the conflict, perhaps by changing the types of crops on the mountain. He said with a smile, "I have tried a lot of 'strange' things. I have tried to plant vanilla and roses on the mountain. But none of these plants survived." Then inspired by friends, I decided to try to grow hops. Because hops have a bitter taste and ciliated stems and leaves, monkeys should not like hops, and hops may replace alpine crops, allowing farmers to maintain their income and no longer be hostile to animals.

Hops is a common name for "snake hemp". It belongs to temperate crops. Taiwan has no record of large-scale cultivation in the past, and some plant players in Taiwan have planted a small amount for ornamental purposes. Cai Jianfu went to horticultural shops in China last year to find 12 seedlings. He planted them in May last year, harvested the first batch in September, and tried brewing in November. "Farmers do not know hops and are worried that they will not sell well. Only some farmers are willing to try the deformed land at the edges and corners." This year, with the assistance of Puli businessmen, 400 seedlings were raised by cutting, but only half of them survived in the first half of the year because it was too hot.

Although the hop plant only survived half of it, Tsai Chien-fu still had a successful harvest in August this year. "the monkey really hasn't come to eat hops yet." He took out this year's harvest of hops, green looks like a cone, actually tore off a petal into the mouth, there is a bitter taste, and a strong sense of air bubbles up the nasal cavity. Song Peihong, co-founder and brewer of Beer head, said with a smile: "even people don't like it. It's understandable why monkeys, who are also primates, don't eat it."

Local hops and brewed Pale Ale beer (Photo / Lin Yijun)

The brewery uses many hops ingots, and the fresh wet flowers are not easy to preserve, take up space and high cost.

Song Peihong explains that beer brewing requires Malt, hops, yeast, and water. At present, there are domestic wheat and barley in Taiwan, but hops used to be limited by the climatic environment, the introduction and quarantine of varieties was cumbersome, and the domestic beer industry was not yet mature, so there has always been no large-scale cultivation of hops. "I myself once asked people to find seedlings, and it was a failure to plant them at home in Peitou." Now the time is ripe for craft beer to blossom all over the country.

Hops contain Alpha acid and essential oil, Alpha acid will bring bitterness, essential oil will bring aroma, different hops make beer aroma and bitter taste are different. In general, breweries use hops that look like cat feed to dry ingots, and usually add more than two kinds of hops according to the needs of beer flavor, but fresh wet hops are "very difficult" for breweries.

Song Peihong explained that the preservation period of fresh hops is short, and if they are not used, they must be frozen, but because they contain water, they cannot be preserved permanently, and the cost is relatively high, so hops are mostly made dry and ingot-shaped. In this way, the time of cold storage can be extended, and storage space can be saved and transportation is convenient. No domestic distillery has ever used fresh hops. Song Peihong said: "fresh hops are very attractive to brewers."

The Alpha acid content of domestic hops is low, but the aroma is full.

For winemakers, the fresher the ingredients, the more they can show the original flavor. Song Peihong is very much looking forward to the aroma of fresh hops, and this time the beer is Pale Ale. "this is the first time that all four ingredients have something to do with Taiwan."

Song Peihong explained that the barley malt used this time comes from the Zhongdu Agricultural production Co-operative (accounting for about 25%) and US-05, which is bred by yeast in Taiwan. This yeast is the most basic form of brewing, and the water is naturally "Made in Taiwan". The hops in the cold-soaked dry hopping part are hops in Luoshao and put in wet hops.

However, Song Peihong said that Luoshao hops alone can not be used, because Luoshao hops Alpha acid determination results are only 1.8%, the general flavor hops Alpha acid content of about 5%, so it must be matched with other hops. This match uses the German bitter hops Magnum to maximize the beer flavor. "the aroma is the most important. The aroma of Luoshao hops is full of aroma, which arouses people's impulse to drink beer."

After three stages of boiling wort, add hops (Photography / Lin Yijun)

What's the difference between brewing with wet hops and usual? "the biggest question is how much to use?" Song Peihong said that in the past, they were all dry ingots, so they had no idea how to grasp the proportion of wet flowers. Before brewing, he asked American wineries many times, and the other side suggested that they should grasp three to six times the weight of dried ingots before they could follow the direction.

The damage of wet flower brewing wine is much lower than expected, and the gentle aroma of citrus fruit makes people take one sip after another.

Before brewing, Song Peihong was most worried about the problem of "wine damage." What is alcohol damage? Song Peihong explained that the bottom sediment is discharged in the final stage of brewing, but the liquor will be consumed in the removal process, and the main cause of wear is usually hops. "before this brew, we would like to say that the size of fresh hops is large and uneven, and the final discharge may cause serious wine damage."

But unexpectedly, the wine damage was much lower than expected! Song Peihong was quite surprised, and he analyzed afterwards: "Wet beer flowers contain water, so the absorption of wine is relatively slow."

What's the flavor of the beer? Song Peihong said that the beer tastes soft and smooth with citrus fruit aromas, and it is speculated that the variety of Luoshao hops may be Cascade of the United States. At the first presentation meeting on Saturday, the public and brewers also said, "it tastes so good that people can't help thinking about one mouthful after another."

This time, 200 litres of beer was brewed with 3.5 kilograms of hops, but it was not sold in bottles, only draft beer. Song Peihong said that hops have not yet been planted on a large scale in China, and only Luoshao produces a small amount at present. "the next batch of domestic hop beer may have to wait until next year." He is looking forward to the future development of domestic hops: "the hops production season in the Northern Hemisphere is the highest from September to October, but Luoshao can still be harvested in December!"

The change of flowers will assist in introduction and breeding in the future, looking forward to the birth of real Taiwan varieties.

If domestic hops are to be successfully promoted to an industry, like other crop industries, they must face the problems of variety, processing, preservation, transportation and marketing. Cai Jianfu said that in addition to the existing varieties, it is really necessary to grow other fragrant and bitter hops, and the future cultivation will be assisted by Hualien Agricultural improvement Farm.

Tsai Chien-fu explains that all domestic hop varieties have to be introduced from abroad, and if you want to have Taiwanese varieties, you need to use researchers to breed them. At present, some researchers in the flower change field have approached him and will assist in introducing and mutagenesis to breed in the future. It is expected that other varieties of hops will be born in two to three years.

Domestic hops is just in its infancy, and there are still many unknowns. Song Peihong believes that, "the varieties are not perfect and the output is uncertain, which can be overcome later. The courage of the first person who is willing to try is the most valuable."

Taiwanese beer made from native hops for the first time (Photo courtesy of Song Peihong)

Hops attract fans and create a relationship population for Luoshao.

Another major boost of domestic hops is the Youth Peasant platform support Program of the National Association for the Promotion of Community Colleges (ACPP). Yang Zhibin, secretary general of the Association, said that he had wondered the significance of revitalizing mountain villages in the past, but Luo Shao's case made him rethink "the significance of the existence of mountain villages" and "interesting ways of life", as well as how various localities have developed their own diversity.

Yang Zhibin says that he likes to drink beer, but he did not study the knowledge of beer in the past. After tasting it at the press conference, he found that local hop beer has a stronger tail than Taiwan beer, which is often drunk, and its flavor is as clear as mountain air.

Tsai Chien-fu, the "originator" of Luoshao hops, believes that hops is a choice for the local industry in the mountain village. before planting, farmers all asked, "how much can it cost per jin?" But in fact, the hops valuation unit is "grams", which is of great economic value. If companies buy it and the consumer market accepts it in the future, local farmers will naturally change their minds.

Instead of constantly increasing output and market share, it is more important to create "Luo Shao powder". Tsai Chien-fu says that since he began to grow hops, he has held many "one-day beer brewers" activities to let people from all over the country get to know Luoshao and walk into Luoshao, becoming a related population "above sightseeing, but not yet full of residence." they are willing to go up the mountain to help farmers. This is the more abundant and difficult-to-quantify intangible value created by domestic hops.

Cai Jianfu tried to plant hops in Luoshao last year, bringing a lot of popularity to the mountain village (Photo courtesy of Cai Jianfu)

Note: Dry Hopping, cold bubble method, refers to adding hops to the fermentation tank for 2-7 days to increase the flavor of the finished beer.

A breakthrough in local craft beer! The original intention of growing native hops in Taiwan's mountains is to make monkeys don't like to eat them!