Green Hops (17th c.)

Recipe for green hops from a 17th c. book of cookery recipes | See full image and item metadata

The maker of this 17th c. recipe recommends using gooseberries, hops, and a pound and a half of sugar to preserve green hops. Gooseberries and hops would have been grown locally, while English makers would have purchased refined sugar exported from sugar plantations in Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, or the Sugar Islands. (For more information on the massive role of sugar in early modern foodways, see York Gingerbread).

Hops plays the central role in one of the brewing industry's most popular legends: that India pale ales gained popularity when homesick British troops and settlers occupying India couldn't brew beer in the Indian climate or import English beer because it would spoil over the journey, and therefore the natural preservatives in London brewer George Hodgson's hopped pale ales established them as a colonial favorite. While this legend isn't particularly true, the link between the English palate for India pale ale— or more accurately to contemporary branding, “pale ale as prepared for the Indian market”— and the British East India Company's brutal occupation and privatization of India certainly is. In reality, Hodgson's business relationship with EIC officers guaranteed him and the EIC a near-monopoly over the Indian beer market. In contrast to "creating" the IPA, it's more likely that Hodgson's beer was already popular with upper- and middle-class settlers and kept relatively well in comparison to other beers during the six-month journey from London to Kolkata.

Maybe with coincidental implications about the United States' relationship with settler-colonialism, IPAs remain one of the most popular beers in the USA today.

For more on the history of English hops production and IPAs in India, see Martyn Cornell, IPA: the Executive Summary, Zythophile (19 November 2008); Mitch Steele, "The 1700s and the Birth of IPA," IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale (2013); Salvatore Colleluori, IPA: The Beer for the British Imperial Arsenal? War on Rocks (1 June 2016).

Tak fair big gowsberries befor they yellow & cut them in qwartowrs almost to the bottom & tak owt all ther meeth or seads & put them on lyk hosp[?] awght or nyn of them on ane prick of one thorn bush, then to one pownd of your stoned hopps put one pownd and qwartor of Shugar disolved in one ing pint of watur and boyled to ane syrrop. Lett it cowll then put in your hops to boyll then [?] till the syrop is annowgh then tak them up and pott them nixt morning being cowld.
Take four big gooseberries before they yellow and cut them in quarters almost to the bottom. Take out all their meat or seeds and put eight or nine of them on one prick of one thorn bush like [?] . Then put 1 pound of your stoned hops to 1 and 1/4 pounds of sugar dissolved in one [?] pint of water and boil it to a syrup. Let it cool and then put in your hops to boil, then [?] till the syrup is enough, then take them up and pot them next morning once cooled.