Sunday, April 18, 2021

Brewing revolution? Itaipava group starts selling its hops

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Brazil is one of the countries that most produce and consume beer. And it was thanks to the thirst for growth of three Brazilians, Jorge Paulo Lemann, Marcel Telles and Carlos Alberto Sicupira, that AB Inbev became the giant it is. The country even has a beer style to call its own, the catharina sour, the first to be classified in this way, in 2018 – in short, it is a fruity version of the berliner weisse. Hence to say that beer is a Brazilian drink are another five hundred. And the main reason is this: hops, the ingredient that gives the product aroma and bitterness (brewers and hipsters talk about soul) are almost always imported. The plant, whose flower resembles that of marijuana, not for nothing of the same family – the psychotropic effects are exclusive to the second one -, arrives in bags from countries like the United States, Germany, Australia and the Czech Republic.

This is not the case for hops used in the production of Braza Hops, the German pils launched by Black Princess in October 2020. These were harvested in Teresópolis, in Rio de Janeiro, and produced by the holding company that controls the Black Princess, Grupo Petrópolis, manufacturer also from Itaipava and Petra, among other brands. In partnership with Viveiro Ninkasi, the company has been planting varieties of hops from other countries since 2018 – the project has already consumed 2.5 million reais. It started with 316 seedlings, of 10 species, to test the adaptability of each one, and gained another 7,000 feet in 2019 – for 2021 the goal is to reach 20,000. For Braz Hops, four species were selected – cascades, chinook, triple pearl and comet. “They add herbal, floral and some spicy notes to the beer,” explains Diego Gomes, industrial director of Grupo Petrópolis and responsible for the hops initiative.

This Monday (5th), they start to be sold, in bloom, in the e-commerce of the Petrópolis Group, BomDeBeer.com.br. Three varieties are available – Argentine cascade, triple pearl and comet – for 24.99 reais, the 100-gram package. The batch is valid for two years, with national delivery. First in the country to obtain approval from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, flops hops tend to make life easier for craft beer producers and to foster the niche they represent – for large producers it does not pay to use the ingredient in flower. “It does not make sense to keep this achievement just for us and we are very interested in hearing the opinion of other brewers”, says Gomes. The group also plans to use the hops themselves to make other of their special beers, not yet defined.

It was not the first company to delve into the idea. Today in the hands of the Heineken Group, the brewery Baden Baden, in Campos do Jordão, launched a commemorative label made only with national hops in 2014. They came from a small fruit producer rooted in São Bento do Sapucaí, also in São Paulo. The second partnership, of 2017, gave rise to Marzen, of the same name. There is also news from small hop producers in Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina and the Federal District. “The viability of this type of production depends, above all, on the quality standard”, advises Gomes. “The main characteristics of the product cannot change every year”. With a similar recipe, remember, Lemann, Telles and Sicupira made Brahma AB Inbev.

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