Landrace: a local variety of a species of plant or animal that has distinctive characteristics arising from development and adaptation over time to conditions of a localised geographic region.
The Landrace Hops bred by chance, by nature. They are unique products of the land in which they first grew, and they adapted to that land and took distinctive qualities from it. They came to thrive as they were grown throughout their region, becoming a prominent feature of their area’s geography.
Those hops defined local beers and refined a collective local beer palate. In time those beers became classic styles, with the aromas and flavours of the Landrace Hops giving them their distinctive accent and character. The Bitters, Pale Ales and Porters, the Pilsners, the Helles and Dunkel, the early American Lagers, all have flavour profiles created by their local hops. And those styles have given us traditions which shape all the world’s beer cultures.
Because of their pedigree, their quality, and their ability to thrive in their land, these hops were used to breed new varieties, and today almost every hop in the world ultimately descends from a Landrace Hop. That breeding sought new flavours, higher bitterness, better agronomics, bolder aromas, and the new varieties came to replace the older ones as the nurturing of the hop breeder replaced the work of nature and natural selection.
Now only a few Landrace Hops remain, and most still grow in the same land in which they were discovered. Golding and Fuggle from England; Tettnang, Hallertau Mittelfrüh, Hersbrucker and Spalt from Germany; Saaz, or Žatec, from the Czech Republic; Strisselspalt from France; and Cluster from North America, which in the early 1970s accounted for 90% of all North American hops, but is now being grubbed and replaced by fruitier modern hops.
Found by nature, formed into the everyday beers which became the defining beers of a place, forged into traditions, famed for their fine flavours, and with their DNA found in almost every hop variety, we think all this makes the Landrace Hops the most important hops in the world.