Life begins at the Hops

There’s a plant which normally grows in a place which is at the end of our walk. I’ve been looking forward to seeing it. I hope it’s there this year. It’s a huge, sprawling climber, growing wild along the canal. It normally takes over the canal bank, the fence and a gate at the end of the towpath. I look for it, eagerly. It’s still there.

“Do you know what this is?” I ask the Puffin Whisperer. She doesn’t. I pick one of its flowers and crush it between my fingers. “What does it smell of?”

“Onions”, she says. It does. It really does smell of onions. There’s another smell there too, underneath the bitter, pungent chive smell. It’s like grass or grapefruit.

“They’re hops,” I say. It smells like an IPA.

Wild Hops - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


Maybe the hops are a little too ripe. Maybe they normally smell like that. Maybe it’s just the variety. Maybe that’s put me off harvesting them and trying them in my home brewed beer.

Onion flavoured beer? It sounds as attractive as a chive smoothie to me.

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