Even with Spalter Hops’ famous quality, it is not readily available. The plant itself does not bear many hops so not everyone can grow it successfully. This fact makes it something special beyond just taste and smell.
Before you work with some rare Spalt hops, brush up on your knowledge here in a few minutes tops.
Where Do Spalt Hops Come From?
When it comes to the exclusivity of origin, Spalt Hops takes the proverbial cake. The Spalt area at Nuremberg, Germany, is the only known region that grows the plant. The Spalt plant itself is not very commercially viable with its low yield. That is why its alternatives are more attractive to farmers.
If you just want to get a glimpse of the cultivar, you can go all the way up to Corvallis in Oregon State, USA. The US Department of Agriculture has a repository for this rare piece of brewing history.
Where Are Spalt Hops Grown?
It is more imported than grown in the US, no thanks to its limited harvestability. Even its clones are more abundant in the very region of its origin, Spalt.
It is the Germans who patiently maintain this practice, most likely for posterity. Not much money to make, and all that.
Spalt Hops Profile
You have the option of using Spalt Hops for bittering and giving a fantastic finish to your brew. This finish would consist of a fruitiness that is distinctly from Spalt hops. You can take a whiff of tea, hints of tarragon and lavender, and ripe bananas. Some older hops would lean more on cedarwood and smoked bacon.
Spalt Hops Flavor
Expect a hoppy yet spicy bitterness from Spalt Hops. It always comes partnered with earth and herbs. When it comes to flavors, you can easily get mixed up with the depth of the aromas
Taste testers might not be able to tell one sense from the other so you should experience it firsthand.
Beers With Spalt Hops
Spalt Hops are mostly found in German Lagers and Ales. This is because it being difficult for the conventional brewer to get their hands on it. Remember the limited supply.
German beers styles that benefit from Spalt are Pilsner, Bock, Helles, and Kölsch. However, the beer style that German brewers favor using Spalt Hops over others is Altbier. If you want to understand why that is, get your hands on some “Alter Spalter” from Shorts Brewing Company. They serve it true to tradition.
Spalt Hops in Wheat Beer
In the Franconian town of Spalt lies the last municipal brewery in Germany. They create some true-blue Spalt-based beers. The brewery is called Stadtbrauerei Spalt.
They have a vast array of beer styles to choose from including wheat beers like “Spalter Weißbier.” A naturally hazy beer with a gentle waft of hops flowery goodness.
Spalt Hops in Pilsner
Try something closer to home like “Prima Pils” by Victory Brewing Company. It is a German-style Pilsner made with a set of Noble hops with Spalt in the roster. The beer takes on spice and citrus for a smooth and effortless drink.
Spalt Hops for Bittering
With an Alpha Acid of 5.7% (over a 5-year range), Spalt Hops can somehow make bittering work. But if you are not a highly experienced brewer, you might be pushing it too much.
Spalt hops are more of an effective aromatic compared to a pungency provider. This is why you might have to shell out some serious cash to even reach a decent IBU level. Just so you know, this Noble hop is rarely used as a bittering ingredient.
German Spalt Hops Substitute
You can replace a Spalt Hops recipe with any of the other Noble hops if you cannot catch sight of this rare specimen. For more of the “ordinary” hops, Liberty and Santiam can work quite nicely. Nevertheless, experts recommend you go for the next best clone named “Spalter Select.” It is not a perfect clone, but it should give you most of the sensations Spalt Spalter can bring.
Where Can I Buy Spalt Hops?
This may not come as a surprise but you can get brewing ingredients from Walmart and Amazon. But the thing is, the uninitiated can misinterpret Spalter Select as Spalt Spalter. This is especially true if the label simply calls the product “German Spalt.” More often than not, these Spalts all come from Germany. You can also try and look for the “Noble” specification.
How to Know if You Bought a Spalt Spalter?
If you have a good nose, you will be able to make out the candy-like aroma of Spalter Select. It is one of the characteristics that make it stand out compared to Spalt Spalter. But you are out of luck if you have no previous reference to work with. You are just going to have to trust your vendor.
An alternative you can try is reaching out to Yakima Chief Hops Inc., they can help you find a retailer near your area.