A St. Patrick’s Day Beverage
Kathy Conner Cornell VCE Southside Master Gardener When I think of St. Patrick’s Day my thoughts generally turn to beer. St. Patrick’s Day always meant a big celebration in the Baltimore area. Most any tavern or restaurant would be serving up corned beef and cabbage and green beer and often have a musical group playing Irish tunes. I do miss those celebrations. But let’s talk about beer, more specifically a main ingredient, hops. Hops, Humulus lupulus, have a rich and long history. Romans used the shoots as a vegetable. The Babylonians used hops to brew a strong beverage. There was mention of a hops garden in Europe as far back as 735 AD. According to “Native American Ethnobotany”, the Cherokee used hops as a sedative, to relieve pain and to reduce kidney inflammation. Some Native Americans used it to make bread rise. First mention of hops being added to beer as a preservative was in 1079 and it is still used today to add flavor and preservation.