In the hot month of July, nothing better than a cold beer after being out in the sun? Why not chill with a good book while you’re at it? For some beer-related reading, look no further than the State Library’s Hop Culture in the United States, by E. Meeker. It’s part of the Washington State Library collections and is featured as the first Library Jewel for the monthly reader competition.
Published in 1883, six years before statehood, this book covers everything hops related. We in Washington are quite familiar with this beautiful and valuable vine. Many a container includes the phrase “brewed with Yakima Valley hops.” In fact, about 77 percent of the U.S.’s total hop production comes from Yakima Valley. The hops grown there give many Washington beers their slightly bitter, floral, and piney flavor.
When Meeker wrote his book on hops, he was aware that Washington had a special relationship with hops. He outlined the complex and delicate processes used by hops farmers to coax the most flavorful and fragrant cones from their vines. Going into deep detail, he gives the soil conditions, moisture regimes, and storing methods necessary for growing an optimum crop. The further you read into it, the more you appreciate the painstaking work and detail that craftsmen put into their arts, sometimes simply to perfect a subtle and complex flavor.