The hops harvest in Galicia began last week with a number of novelties, fruit of the research carried out in recent years on this climbing plant by the Centro de Investigaciones Agrarias de Mabegondo (Mabegondo Agricultural Research Centre) in collaboration with Corporación Hijos de Rivera. For the first time the Cascade hops will be harvested. It is one of the most highly regarded by brewers for its powerful aroma. In addition, this year testing has been carried out on the use of ecological esparto cord for the plants to climb up, allowing possible silage as cattle feed.
Also, for the second year running, the ecological hops harvest is being carried out following the procedures marked out by the CRAEGA (Consejo Regulador de la Agricultura Ecológica en Galicia), a unique project in Spain. The ecological hops plot is located on the Mabegondo facilities and it is the result of a research and testing process that has meant the transition from conventional to ecological cultivation.
The harvest of conventionally cultivated Galician hops will last around ten days. Only in the facilities of the CIAM is there an expected production of around 1,200 kg of hops flowers from the 2.2 hectares cultivated. Every year, new varieties are added to the cultivation tests in order to evaluate its development. This year, the Nugget, Magnum, Perle, Sladek, Merkur and Cascade varieties will be the main ones harvested.
As a result of the start of this research project, a number of private initiatives have emerged to cultivate hops in Galicia by individuals who have come together under the cooperative LUTEGA. The CIAM and Hijos de Rivera make all the findings of the research undertaken available to them so they can put them into practice when cultivating their hops.
The initiative to recover the cultivation of hops in an experimental plot arose in 2004 with the objective of making a special beer for the Centenary of Estrella Galicia and has become consolidated and grown throughout these years with Hijos de Rivera contributing a growing amount of means and effort to the project. From that moment, the company has made its traditional Estrella de Navidad (Christmas Estrella) every year with Galician hops from its plots at the CIAM.
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