Apples and hops on the Ritten

When someone mentions hops, we inevitably think of beer. But the industrious South Tyrolean entrepreneur Thomas Kohl, of mountain apple juice fame, has now combined apples with the flowers of this climbing plant to create a completely new product.

This year, people are celebrating not only at Munich’s Oktoberfest but also in the Bavarian district of Hallertau, the largest continuous hop-growing area in the world. This year’s hop harvest was very good and the beer market, especially for craft beers, is looking buoyant. But it still came as a surprise to see Thomas Kohl looking for hops in Hallertau for a newly created juice.

Hops and apple juice?

Will that work? “Until today nobody has considered combining apple juice and hops. Many people believe that the hops produce alcohol in the juice or make it foam when the bottle is opened,” says the apple juice refiner. But that is not the case. As with beer, hops are an ingredient that gives the product its distinctive taste. They contain more than 400 essential oils and bitter resins, which have antibacterial properties and give the juice its delicate bitter note.

The range of hop varieties is large. Some have a fruity blackberry flavour, others taste of cassis or citrus fruit. In order to find the right variety for his apple juice, Thomas Kohl had to invest a great deal of time; nobody had any experience of combining apple juice with hops, because there was never such a product on the market before. Kohl is the first to attempt such a combination, and he is convinced: “You need courage to innovate – and to stick to your guns right to the end. A little bit of innovation is not enough, and there is no end of juices that are sweet or acidic.” Kohl feels inspired by the current trend in beer: It shows that hops are a multifaceted ingredient, which – in expert hands – can be combined to create an outstanding product.

Pizza and hearty meat dishes

The same general rule applies as with wine: strong drink and hearty meal, light drink and delicate dishes. As with all his products, Kohl offers suggestions for serving temperature and food pairings. He recommends his new juice – served in a long-stemmed glass at 8 - 12°C so that the aromas can fully develop – with spicy, hot, grilled dishes, pizzas, flavoursome cheeses and desserts made with coffee.