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"Tastes Like Success"

“Tastes like success at the Hogs Back Brewery” was the headline of the Farnham Herald article in August 1992 to announce the launch of the Hogs Back Brewery.

Farnham Herald article 1992 for launch of Hogs Back Brewery

Image by kind permission of Farnham Herald

The first beer out of the Brewery doors was Tongham Traditional English Ale or Tongham TEA for short.

Local deliveries of this new real ale were made to The White Hart in Tongham, as well as The Bush Hotel and The Seven Stars in Farnham. Owners Martin and John Hunt, and Tony Stanton-Precious, were hoping to organise Brewery tours.

Hogs Back Brewery old logo

The Herald even ran a competition to mark the launch, with T-shirts depicting a clock with the time 7.10am.  The first three people to write in and explain the significance of the time won 40 pints of Tongham TEA!

Hogs Back Brewery from the air

Way back then, it was just a 10 barrel brew (about 3,000 pints) and a pint of Tongham TEA would have cost £1.30!  30 years on a few things have changed.  Our standard brew size is 40 barrels (approximately 12,000 pints) and we have brewed over 7300 brews since first opening the doors.  That’s over 80 million pints and counting!

Old Hogs Back Brewery sign

Here is a look back at some of the highlights from the last 30 years…..

1992: The first barrels of Tongham TEA are brewed at Manor Farm in Tongham.  One of the first pubs to stock it is the White Hart, just down the road.

Beer pump clips

1994: Brewster’s Bundle is brewed to celebrate the birth of Charley, daughter of our brewster, Mo.  Charley weighs in at 7lb 4oz so the ABV is chosen as 7.4% in her honour.

Brewster's Bundle beer and glass

1995: TEA is Runner Up in the Best Bitter category at the Great British Beer Festival, run by CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale).

TEA beer award

1995: Our honeyed ale, Friday 13th is first brewed.  A triumph born out of disaster! When 6 geese flew into the power cables and caused a power cut, the brew was saved by adding honey.  Still brewed to this day every Friday 13th.

Friday 13th beer

2000: TEA is named as overall runner up Champion Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival.

TEA beer award  2005: Our steam waggon takes part in the Glasgow to Shrewsbury run.

Hogs Back steam waggon

2006: The Hogs Back Beer Machine with a Harley Davidson engine is commissioned originally as a delivery bike. It’s a bit of a monster!

Hogs Back Brewery beer machine motorbike

2006: A over T (Aromas over Tongham) is crowned Supreme Champion Winter Ale of Britain at the CAMRA Winter Beer Festival.

A over T award certificate

2011: Business is bought by Rupert Thompson, who had worked in the brewing industry for many years on brands including Carling (Britain’s biggest beer brand), Old Speckled Hen and Hobgoblin.

2012: A 30 tonne malt silo is added, together with our very own mill.  This replaces the 25kg sacks of pre-crushed malt that have to be opened and poured by hand.

Malt silo

2013: TEA is rebranded with the iconic marque showing the brewery on the back of the hog.

TEA beer pump clip and beer glass

2013: The launch of Hogstar Lager, a 4.5% ABV lager brewed with five different hops and selected herb extracts, and matured for over a month.

Hogstar lager bottle

2013: Hazy Hog, a cloudy cider is launched.  Made to our recipe with 100% British bittersweet apples by fellow family-owned business, Thatchers.

Hazy Hog cider badge

2014: The planting of the hop garden adjacent to the Brewery, makes us the largest brewer with a hop garden in the UK.  Rev. Claire Holt from St Paul’s church in Tongham performs a hop blessing.

Hogs Back Brewery hop garden is planted

2014: The Tongham TEA Club is born. 

Tongham TEA Club for beer lovers meeting

2015:  We harvested our first crop of Fuggles (used in Tongham TEA), English Cascade (used in Hogstar and Surrey Nirvana) and the heritage hop, Farnham White Bine.

Tractor and people harvesting hop

2015: Winner of the prestigious British Beer and Pub Association Grain-to-Glass award for growing our own hops.

Hogs Back team win BBPA award for its hop garden

2015: Hogstar wins Gold at the SIBA (Small Independent Brewers Association) National Keg Competition for Premium Pale & Golden Lagers.


2015: A collaboration with Montezuma’s results in what we believe to be the world’s first genuine lager.

Montezumas chocolate lager bottle

 2016: The new Dual Purpose Vessels  (DPVs) arrive and have to be lifted over the brewery to get them into place!

Dual purpose vessels for brewing beer lifted by crane over brewery

2016: Countryfile visits.  Anita Rani spends time in the hop garden before the all important tasting!

Anita Rani from Countryfile TV programme visits

2016: “Farnham White” ale is launched.  Brewed exclusively with Farnham White Bine hops from our hop garden, we have helped to bring this hop back from the brink.

Farnham White Bine beer bottle

2019: The hop garden is relocated to just yards away from the brewhouse and is expanded to 8.5 acres.  Rev. Claire Holt performs the traditional hop blessing ceremony for us again.

Digging up hop plants

2019: The Summer Bar is awarded the Cask Marque accreditation – the sign of cask ale quality.  It’s very fitting as Rupert helped set up the Cask Marque scheme!

Rupert and Liam with the Cask marque award

2019: BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen visits.

Saturday Kitchen TV programme film at Hogs Back Brewery

2020: Hop Garden tours are introduced.

Hop garden tours

2020: Due to Covid and the lockdown, the Brewery Shop closes.  But undeterred, we open the Drive Through, start Virtual Tastings screened live from the brew house, and launch our very own Local Delivery service.

Beer at the Drive Through

2021: The Brewery Tap opens in what was once the old hop kiln.

Brewery Tap Room bar

2021: We harvest a bumper crop with the help of our volunteers, the Hogs Back Hoppers ........

Horse drawn dray helping the hop harvest

and 2,500 people enjoy the Hop Harvest party celebrations over a weekend in September.

Hop Harvest Festival party

2021: A over T wins Champion Bottled Beer of Britain (CAMRA).

Brewery team wins CAMRA Champion Bottled Beer of Britain award

2022: Tongham TEA is given a brand-new design.  The traditional graphic style features our familiar hog in front of the brewery, farm buildings and hop garden. 

Tongham TEA new pump clip and beer bottle

2022: When Hogs Fly, our first beer collaboration with a brewery, London-based Mondo, launches.

When Hogs Fly beer in collaboration with Mondo

2022: Utopia 30th 5% cask ale launches in the Brewery Shop and Tap......

Utopia 30th birthday beer

.....Meanwhile Utopia 30th bottle-conditioned beer goes through the brew house exactly 30 years to the day of its opening.

Brewer looking at Utopia beer in the mash tun

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported the brewery over the last 30 years.  We couldn't have done it without you!

For all the news for the next 30 years from the Brewery, sign up to our newsletter below and follow us @HogsBackBrewery on TwitterFacebook and Instagram!

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