The 2018 Hop Harvest: Follow the hops from Field to Firkin
Our final hop harvest on our current hop garden site got underway last week before the move to our new 8.5 acre garden site. This is a very busy and important time for Matthew in Garden and Miles in the Brewhouse so it was great to have Bill Biddell from the Hampton Farm Estate there to make sure we bring in the hops in their best condition.
Farnham White Bine hops harvested and ready to be picked
With the heatwave and prolonged dry conditions over the summer we have been aware that this year's harvest will be focused on 'quality over quantity'. It was therefore really important that we picked our hops when they were in their best condition to lock in all of those amazing flavours and bittering elements which give our beers their iconic tastes.
Massey Fergusons are ideal for hop picking as they are small enough to fit down the alleyways
Luckily we work with some of best Hop Farmers in the country in Hampton Estate based in Seale, just 3 miles from the brewery who help us bring in our crop and ready it for the brewing process. In what was once one of the main hop growing regions, Hogs Back and Hamptons are the only two Hop Garden sites left in Surrey and in total there are now just over 5o hop farmers across the UK.
This year's harvest begun on the morning of the 30th August with the Farnham White Bine, the heritage hop only grown in our Hop Garden, being the first to be harvested followed by the Fuggles hop which will be green-hopped to brew this month's seasonal ale Green TEA. We have decided to leave our Cascade hops up for an extra week as, due to their history of growing in the Unites States, they are used to the warm weather and haven't brought their growing patterns forward in case their water runs out.
The Hop bines are attached to a conveyor belt and run through a machine which separates out the hops
The fleet of 6 tractors including beautiful Massey Fergusons right up to the modern-day compact tractors made light work going up and down the alleys with their team of pickers before taking the hops off to Hamptons. Once there, the hop plants are put through some pretty 'traditional' machinery which separates the hops from the plants before being laid out by hand for drying and sacking.
The Hops are then laid out to be dried
You can see videos of the process from field to the kiln so far of our Farnham White and Fuggles hops on our Facebook
channels and keep watching as we take the process on to brewing and then serving a lovely pint!