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In the Garden of Hops

On the last day of the summer, the Dundulis brewers took a part in a harvest gathering at Vytautas Magnus University Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden had been founded in 1924 and it has been renewed several years ago. This garden exhibits a large nursery with a unique to the Baltics scientific collection of common hops (Humulus lupulus L.) – 28 inbred selected varieties and 19 wild specimens collected from various homesteads in Birzai, Anyksciai, Kupiskis, Rokiskis and other North-Eastern Lithuanian districts. Besides the knowledge and experience we gained by talking to the researchers supervising the garden, we have brought back a range of hop samples native to the garden, including the Lithuanian varieties, like Kaunas Grazieji, Freda Derlingieji, and Raudoniai, that have been bred by prof. Stasys Gudanavicius. It was the latter varieties that interested us the most, and they have aroused our curiosity just to find out how these hops would perform in beer brewing. As a matter of fact, until very recently (1994-1995), we could find Kaunas Grazieji hops in beer by Ragutis; unfortunately, in recent years, this variety has been neglected by Lithuanian brewers and the breed has remained only as a specimen in collector gardens. The hops that we’ve brought were just enough for a very small amount of beer. Although as symbolic as it was, it has been an important step to bring these hops back to the table of Lithuanian beer brewing. While sketching the recipe of the beer that would reveal the qualities of our Lithuanian hops, we have decided to add the hops by prof. S. Gudanavicius at the latest. Therefore, having tasted the result, we are delighted that even small amounts of the said hops unfolded the delicate earthy herbaceous, lightly floral aroma of Kaunas Grazieji, Raudoniai and Freda’s Derlingieji, which is perfectly suited to our beer landscape. It should be said that the result not only did not disappoint us, but it also inspired us to plant the garden of the hops next to our brewery. This experiment proved that it is possible to brew decent beer not only from hops grown in Lithuania, but also from exclusively local Lithuanian hop varieties. We stand for Lithuanian Beer Brewing!

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