Hopostrophes

Table from a Institute of Brewing Journal, 1983.

By Bailey

I once wrote the language style guide for a large organisation but I didn’t get chance to come up with advice on writing about hops. Now seems like a good time to put that right. As usual with questions of style (grammar’s wishy-washy, let-it-all-hang-out cousin) this is slightly more complicated than it ought to be.

1. The names of hop varieties should be capitalised. Most older varieties are named after places or people (Goldings, Fuggles) and many newer ones are trademarks, and so ought to be capitalised. For consistency, it makes sense to capitalise all of them, all of the time.

2. Older hop varieties named after people or places tend, historically, to be written as if they were plurals. This might be because they were once possessives which have lost their apostrophes — should it be Golding’s, just as the variety of apple is Laxton’s Superb? Or do we accept that, as with the Nags [sic] Head, it is too late to be correcting typos? My view is that to attempt to overturn this tradition would be churlish. So, Fuggles and Goldings it is.

3. Except, of course, in the case of Whitbread Golding Variety (WGV) which is definitely not Whitbread Goldings Variety.

4. American hops which have been around for a long while cause confusion: should they be given names which echo Goldings and Fuggles? The Journal of the Institute of Brewing referred, in the nineteen-seventies and eighties, to Clusters (with S, an old variety) and Cascade (without, relatively modern). They also suggest Super Styrians, perhaps because they were seen as part of the same family as Styrian Goldings. That seems a good example to follow.

5. New hops varieties are rarely, if ever, pluralised: writing Sorachi Aces, Citras, Mosaics and Danas seems outright barbarous.

6. Hops from non-English speaking countries which are commonly referred to using, e.g., German or Czech names should not be pluralised as if they were English words: ‘Saazs’ seems silly (zeems zilly). Hallertau is a variety in its own right; but sub-varieties from the Hallertau region are, e.g., Hallertauer Magnum.

7. A general rule, then: don’t stick an S on the end of the name of a hop variety unless it is Fuggles, Goldings, Super Styrians or Clusters.

The brewer added generous amounts of Cascade in the first batch. By the time of the second brew, the recipe had been revised, and on that occasion used equally generous amounts of Goldings and Clusters, with a touch of Citra.

15 thoughts on “Hopostrophes”

  1. I like to the the variety names as if they’re Linnaean species names i.e. in italics with only the first word capitalised if there’s more than one, so Goldings, Styrian goldings and Cascade. Technically though as hop ‘varieties’ are cultivars I don’t suppose they would warrant italicisation.

  2. I assume anything where there are a family of related hops, the s is there less to denote a hop discovered by a person more that “Golding varieties” has been contracted to Goldings and so on

  3. I think I’ll be happy as long as people don’t perpetuate the adoption of ‘varietal’ as a noun, it’s bad enough having to read the word being mangled in wine articles!

    1. Oh, all the varietoles of the hoplodes, twisty up and down the binders in the feedles of Kent! Deep joy!

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