On Ascension Day under the evening spring slightly overcast sky, we welcomed over 150 guests, Hoppers and staff to the annual Hop Blessing ceremony.
With Rupert in fine voice to offer a few words of welcome, it was quickly over to Rev. Claire Holt to officiate.
A simple prayer giving thanks for the bounty of nature was followed by our guests joining Rupert and Rev. Claire in raising a complementary glass of Tongham TEA in the hope of encouraging our three varieties of hop to provide an ample crop to harvest this autumn.
In days of yore, the blessing of the hops was observed in rural communities on Ascension Day as a way of encouraging a plentiful harvest.
The more hardy of the guests then joined in our mini “Beating the Bounds” walk – instead of walking the parish boundaries, Rupert, Rev. Claire and Matthew led guests around the 8.5 acre hop garden. It might have been a little squelchy in places but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm.
Beating the Bounds traditionally took place around Ascension Day, when villagers were walked by the priest around the parish boundaries. Your parish dictated how much tax you paid and where you could be buried for example, so it was important to know your parish boundaries from an early age.
Part of the traditional walk, as history tells us, would involve banging the children’s heads against the boundary stones, which is where “beating” comes from. We’re happy to report this was not part of the custom revived at the Brewery!
With plenty more pints flowing and the tantalising aromas of hog roast wafting on the air, we were pleased so many of our guests stayed on to make a real evening of it.
Our canine friends seemed to enjoy the evening too, including one aptly named Fuggles!
Farnham White, our latest beer, brewed with the heritage hop grown on site, was brewed specially for the occasion and enjoyed by many.
Let’s hope the blessing will bring another plentiful hop crop to the Hogs Back Brewery!