"Terroir" is the concept that the land from which the hops and/or grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that growing site. The ancient Greeks and later the French wine makers recognized that unique aspects of where grapes were grown have an influence on the wine made from these grapes. Wine made from the same variety of grapes often have different aroma and flavor due to terroir.
This same principal is applicable to hops. Hops produced from different regions of the world, nation and state have the potential to impart different aroma and flavor characteristics within the same variety of hops. For example, Chinook hops grown in the Northeastern US have a less piney and resinous aroma than those grown in the Northwestern US. These hops tend to have a more tropical aroma.
Some of the elements of terroir impacting hops include climate and latitude, soil type and composition, surrounding plants, and natural terrain features such as hills, bodies of water, and elevation.
"Hops are like grapes – special conditions of terroir, of soil, the growing conditions, of climate and sunlight will produce unique flavors." Sam Adams founder and Brewer, Jim Koch
Day length, temperature, humidity, and rainfall are factors that influence taste. Day length and temperature influences when hop bines emerge in the Spring, when they flower in the Summer and when they go into dormancy in the Fall. Summer rains also impact the rate of growth of the hop bines and production of hop cones.
Hop bines get the water and nutrients that they need from the soil. What the hop plants absorb through their roots affects the size, shape, health and flavor of the hop cones. Each hop yard has soil which is unique to its location (clay, limestone, gravel or sand). How the soil is fertilized and cultivated influences its quality and mineral composition.
The slope of the terrain impacts water drainage, circulation of winds and air currents, and the availability of sunlight reaching the hop plants. Proximity to the sea or other large bodies of water influence afternoon breezes, thunderstorms, humidity and heat moderation.
Trees and plants near the hop yard can influence the flavors in the hop cones. Bees traveling between the hop cones and flowers from other plants and trees can contribute to this transference. Surrounding trees and plants can also serve as hosts to beneficial birds and insects which assist in pest control.
Florida Hop Growers local "farm to brewery" Florida grown hops