Hops A-Z: V is for Verband Deutscher Hopfenpflanzer

It's taken me until the 22nd letter of this A-Z to include them. Many readers have questioned their omission so far. Truth be told, I could have dedicated the whole project to them, several times over, such is their impact on the history of hop production. Their hop growing association is the VDH; the country is Germany.

The problem with discussing the German hop industry is that it's hard to know where to start and where to end. Perhaps we start right back in ninth-century Hallertau, said by some to be the cradle of commercial hop growing for beer production. Perhaps we ought to look to the fact that the Hallertau region alone was responsible for 30% of the world's hop production in 2008.

How did the region - indeed, the country - come to dominate? Specialist knowledge developed over centuries. Evolving production methods. Innovative research facilities. Highly competitive marketing structures. Great adaptability to the requirements of the global hop market. And, perhaps, the work of their Hop Growers Association.

For over 125 years, the Verband Deutscher Hopfenpflanzer (VDH) have represented the interests of German hop growers. Their headquarters is in the 'House of Hops' in Wolnzach, shared with the regional associations and the State Institute for Hop Production. Here, the umbrella organisation for the nation's hop industry is involved with hop supply contract negotiation, market regulation, sales and marketing promotion, tax and legal advice for members, publicity and representation of the industry at national and international level.

I'd argue that Germany's position in the hop hierarchy is in no small measure due to the resources expended in such associations as the VDH. There's so much detail that I could explore here, but I'm limited by space and my tangential grip on the German language. I feel another series of articles coming on... looks like I need to add German language lessons onto the self-study guide alongside biochemistry :)