head_of_hopHops are grown in many places in the world, but not all hop areas have the quality and special properties of the Zatec area. This proves that not only the vine variety, but also combination of natural conditions such as location, soil, climatic conditions contribute to optimize their quality. The tradition of thousand years of hop growing has a substantial effect as well.
    The uniqueness of the Czech Saaz Hops is given by specific natural conditions, especially in the Saaz Area. This area is protected from northwest by Krušné Mountains, Doupov Hills and Czech Mountains, which create so-called rainshade. The yearly precipitation in average is only 450 mm but spread at the same time very favorably to the growth of hops. The average year temperature is 7,5° - 8,5° C. Together with the natural and climatic conditions the soil has a considerable influence on hop quality. There are mainly permian red soils and light drift soils a specific feature of this hop area. The proper development of hop plants is also influenced by the location of hop gardens altitude, location in terrain relief, its slanting and relation to the cardinal points.
 Inside of each hop area there are thus some areas particularly suitable for hop growing i.e. where first mapclass quality hops are produced: wide open valleys with the free air streaming, well protected against the strong west and north winds. Inside Saaz area the best locations are Golden Creek Valley (Údolí zlatého potoka) and Woodland (Podlesí). In Auscha Area Polepy Marshland (Polepská blata).
    The basic quality is, naturally, given by the properties of the "Zatecký poloraný èerveòák" variety (Zatec semi-early red-bine hops). This is a variety with an exceptionally healthy base and genetic purity. The specific characteristics of Zatec hops are the fineness, perfect appearance, fine genuine hop aroma and golden colour, designating the ripeness and health of the hops.
    In a year of normal harvest, Zatec hops contain about 14 - 15 % of soft resins and about 4 % alpha-acid. From the brewer's point of view not only the resins, but also other components, especially tannins and essential oils contribute to the quality of beer.
    Apart from alpha bitter acid there is a very important betafraction in Saaz Hops. This fraction is more marked in Zatec hops than in other hops (1,5 : 1). The results of our own and foreign scientific experiments prove that a larger part of the B-fraction changes by boiling into a soluble form. From tests conducted follows that the higher proportion of the B-fraction in Zatec hops has a significant influence on the typical fineness and pleasant bitterness of beer.
    The most characteristic feature of the Zatec semi-early redbine hops is of course its aroma. Saaz Hop aroma is unique, mild hop aroma, typical for this variety. The chemical analysis confirms again its typical composition: One of the assets compared to other hop varieties - could be considered a low content of myrcene and on the other hand higher content of farnesene.
    The importance of tannins should not be forgotten, too. Saaz Hops has a higher contents of tannins than any other hops. The overall character of Saaz Hops aroma is then given by the relation of all components.
Owing to these properties, i.e. their capacity to impart to beer a fine aroma and a pleasant bitterness, Zatec Hops are used by almost all important breweries at least for the last hopping.   
    Consumers do not wish to see in beer only a means of quenching thirst, but an important and pleasant nourishing product which moreever furthers digestion and healthy sleep. Beers from Zatec hops are intended for the most demanding customers - many breweries are indebted to them for popularity of their beers.
    A virus free hops programme started a few years ago and from 1994 virus free plants are grown on a number of hop gardens. Virus free Meristem roots have been produced by well known methods such as thermotherapy and imunnoenzymatic detection for individual viruses.
    The results after 7 years: the average yield is higher by 28 %, the average alpha acid is higher by 48 %. Chemical analysis of the hop's essential oils and resins confirm that the virus free hops have retained the quality of Saaz fine aromatic hops.