Sons of the Soil

image12-mainBy Alan Hope

The Belgian hop industry is shrinking, but staying strong.

For a country with such a stellar international reputation for beer, Belgium is — not to put too fine a point on it — a pipsqueak on the international hops scene.

There are about 45,000 hectares of hop fields in the world, with the market dominated by Germany and the US (see table). Belgium has 23 full-time hop growers, working 158.6 hectares in all. Most of that is in the immediate area of Poperinge in West Flanders. The rest is confined to a corridor east of Brussels covering Asse, Affligem and Aalst.

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