Hop Growing

One of the most popular and best known activities in the Lower Savinja Valley is hop growing, which gives the valley its distinctive appearance with extensive fields of hops. The area of the Lower Savinja Valley has three quarters of all of the fields of hops in Slovenia. A small part of the hops is used for the production of medicines, and the rest of it for brewing, since it is hop that gives beer that unique, pleasantly bitter flavour.
Hops are part of the family Cannabaceae and are a perennial industrial plant originating from Asia. Only the female flowers, which produce small cones when in blossom, are cultivated in fields of hops. Hops are harvested in late summer (mid-August to the start of September), when hops contain must substances that can be used in the industry. Hops were known even to the Romans, who sold its buds at markets. Arabic doctors used hops as an important healing plant, and in Europe they started being used for brewing in the 8th century. Later on, many types of fake beer appeared, thus Germany passed a law in the 12th century that established that beer had to be brewed from 4 ingredients: hops, malt, yeast and water. Hops have a variety of uses. Hops are widely added to fragrant pillows enabling better sleep, and in the past, the stem was used for making baskets. Stems were also used to obtain fibres for fabrics and cellulose for paper.
 
The preservation of customs connected with hop growing is provided by the Hmeljarska Vas Ethnological Society from Ponikva pri Šempetru. 
The beginning of modern hop growing in the Lower Savinja Valley dates back to the year 1876. An important milestone, however, was the year 1886, when the first experiments were done with the sort imported from England, which was later established under the name “savinjski golding”. This is the true beginning of hop growing in the Savinja Valley. Hops and hop growing are the symbols of the Lower Savinja Valley to this day. Their importance and customs connected with this precious plant are also being kept alive through various and interesting events.
 
Visitors can find out more about hop growing in the Eco-Museum of Hop-Growing and the Brewing Industry in Slovenia in Žalec.
 
Opening times:
Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 15:00–18:00
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday: 9:00–13:00
or upon prior arrangement

Ekomuzej hmeljarstva in pivovarstva Slovenije
Ul. žalskega tabora 2
3331 Žalec

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