Hops history in Spain
It was not until the Middle Ages that we found the first document where hops appeared in the Iberian Peninsula. We have to go back to the fifteenth century. Inside the Cathedral of León, in the chapel of the Apostle Santiago -work of Juan de Badajoz- appears the first representation of hops in Spain. It is a frieze decorated with hop flowers, a consequence of the relations between Castile and Flanders where the cultivation of hops was common. It is no coincidence that, today,León is the province where 99 national hops are grownl.
The most widespread cultivation began in 1861 at the hands of the Marquis de Murrieta, who dedicated several hectares to this cultivation on his Rioja estate in Ygay. However, it won't be until1915 when production begins for commercial purposes in the Experimental Agricultural Station of La Coruña and in Betanzos. In turn, tests were carried out in Navarra, Vizcaya and Granada.
Later, during the Spanish post-war period and the Second World War, the breweries had hop supply problems because imports were paralyzed. Later, it was enacted in1945 a decree providing for the promotion of cultivation through an administrative concession that falls to the S.A. Spanish for the Promotion of Hops, made up of practically all the existing breweries in the country at this time.
Fifteen years after its constitution, the initial objective of supplying hops to the national beer sector was achieved, and cultivation was concentrated in the provinces of León, Asturias and La Coruña. Then during the 70s the cultivation of hops became popular in various regions of León, especially the Ribera del Órbigo. This boom is explained because it has guaranteed income, sincebreweries contract production several years in advance.
In 1986, with the incorporation of Spain into the European Union, the import of hops was released, so that the role of S.A. Spanish for the Promotion of Hops, becoming a marketing company that establishes its purchase objectives based on the needs of the shareholders. At this time, hop processing companies were also established in Spain. After a few years, customer interest in varieties that are not produced in our country grows. In 1992 the S.A. Española de Fomento del Hops begins a new period by launching a research project, culminating in 1996 with the varietal reconversion program of the specialties.H-3 and H-7 varieties were changed to Nugget and Magnum.
It is as a result of this reconversion whenthe industry prevails the quality content in alpha acids regarding the quantity kg flowerlor). At this point, the aging fleet of processing machinery of the producers, mainly the dryers, limits the competitiveness of the sector.
In 2007 a new processing plant is built in Villanueva del Carrizo that concentrates all the cultivation in the area. The new plant contributes to improving the conservation of Spanish hops. Withan investment of 1.2 million euros and an area of more than 3,000 mtwo, the new building houses modern cold rooms and a packaging control area, which contribute to the commercialization of a higher quality raw material, providing significant value to the final product.
Since 2015,Hopsteiner assumes control of the company. The multinational has introduced new varieties of hops and the renewal of the selection, drying and packaging processing systems in order to enhance the competitiveness of the Spanish sector.l.