Craft beers: Return of the British hop

Beer in the UK

As the weather has gotten warmer and restaurants, pubs and bars have reopened in the UK, more people are returning to popular pastimes in Britain. For some, this involves drinking local beer. The UK has a long history of producing beer, dating back to the Middle Ages when monks drank a gallon of ale per day made from just water, malt, and yeast. Imported hops were later introduced from Flanders, which provided ale with an antibacterial quality from the hops’ resins and oils. After a while, hopped ale began to be known as beer.

Hops have been grown in South East UK since the late 1400s. Once safe drinking water became widely available in the late 1800s the demand for beer fell, as people were previously drinking beer in place of clean water. Hop farms remained in the UK but only in places where seasonal labour was easy to find, such as in the West Midlands and South Eastern counties. Many workers are needed to harvest hops as each plant requires hands-on care to grow up stilts or avoid ruination by fungus and excessive mildew.

Craft Beers: Return of the hop

The modern “craft beer” movement, spearheaded by American microbreweries nearly two decades ago, has also returned focus on British hops. British farmers are optimistic about the future of UK-grown hops and bringing local hops back into the UK beer production in order to reduce the carbon footprint of imported hops.

PatBase, the global patent database created by Minesoft and RWS, makes it easy to find patents related to virtually any topic. Using the Classification Finder tool, we can easily view all IPC and CPC codes which are international classification systems used to sort patents and utility models by technology.

In the CPC system, the C12C code relates to “Beer; Preparation Of Beer By Fermentation (Ageing Or Ripening By Storing)” and sub-groups C12C3/00 OR C12C3/02 OR C12C3/04 OR C12C3/06 OR C12C3/08 OR C12C3/085 OR C12C3/10 OR C12C3/12 relate specifically to hops.

From the Classification Explorer, you can select the codes of interest and search them directly on PatBase.

Patent Classifications Related to Beer Hops

Simple patent analysis with PatBase Analytics

Then, using Minesoft’s PatBase Analytics you can run an analysis on the search results. Below, the graph shows the top 5 jurisdictions by the number of patent applications. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top 3 jurisdictions are Germany, United States of America and then the United Kingdom by the number of patent applications related to beer hops. These three countries are also the top craft beer producers, with the US leading the way, followed by the UK and then Germany.

Top Jurisdictions by Beer Patents

The number of applications for patents related to beer hops has been on the rise since 2005. This is in line with the trend of craft beer consumption. The number of grants has fluctuated during this period; however, it has been on the rise since 2013 and sharply increasing in 2019 which suggests that this is a growing area of interest.

Beer Patents over Time

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