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Harvest Ahead - Hogs Back Brewery

Harvest Ahead

Welcome to the August update from A Year in the Life of our Hop Garden.

What a difference a year makes!  Last year, we watched as the hops just grew bigger and more abundant before our eyes.

Hop Harvest 2021

This year, with the harvest fast approaching, it has been a nervous time for Matthew.  It’s now a “watching and waiting” game to see just how big and abundant the hops will grow in the last few days before the harvest begins.

The continued hot, dry weather means the hops have become rather stressed.  The hops rely on rainfall as there is no means to irrigate them.  The irony of having drained the reservoir earlier this year is not lost on Rupert!  But to make him feel better, there wasn’t an easy way to get the water from the reservoir to the hops.

The scattered showers have been most welcome but have been too few and far between to really help the hops.  Yesterday’s rain has given the hops a bit of a boost and they are certainly looking perkier!

Rain clouds over the hop garden

The visit from the agronomist was positive.  The hot weather has meant that the hops have been protected against the usual aphid attacks as they simply cannot survive in such hot conditions.  There are a few spider mites, but nothing to worry about.

The hop bines look very “thin” compared to last year, when the laterals were simply laden with hops and the bines grew along the overhead wires forming wonderful archways of hops.  It is the same across the whole country with hop harvests expected to be down significantly.

Did you know it is only the female plants that carry the hop cones?  Here's one of our male hop plants....they move around the garden from year to year so it is only at this time that you can spot them!

Male hop plant without hop cones

The Fuggles hops are the most advanced, but still lacking some aroma.  The yellow lupolins, with the all-important hop oil, are now visible.

Farnham White Bine, our unique heritage hop, are coming on leaps and bounds with the hop cones almost on a par with the Fuggles.  They have benefited from another year of maturity and seem to be more abundant than last year.

Farnham White Bine

Cascade is further behind, with some burrs, that are yet to turn into hop cones, still visible.  The wonderful citrus aroma hasn’t fully developed yet, but is improving by the week.

English Cascade

Although we are anxiously watching the hops, this cheeky visitor was undeterred.

Deer in hop garden

The Hop Garden Open Evening was a success as we had the chance to show off the hop garden to over 250 visitors.

Hop Garden Open Evening visitors

Matthew will be harvesting the Fuggles first, then Farnham White Bine, with Cascade last, in order to give the hops the best chance of reaching their best.

Away from the hop garden, Matthew has been busy getting all the equipment in tip-top condition……

The tractor has been serviced…..

The picker has been started up…..

Hop Picker in the Hangar

The canopy has been put in place over the kiln, and the kiln itself has been fired up…..

Getting the hop kiln ready

The conditioning floor, where the hops will spend 24 hours after being dried and before being packed, has been built…..

Conditioning floor for the hops in the Hangar

The new packer, which will be 3-4 times faster than last year, has been delivered.

The new hop packer in the Hangar

The clearing of the Hangar has been started……

Hop picker in Hangar

Last but not least, the specially-commissioned Hoppers T-shirts have arrived!  The long-sleeves will help to protect the Hoppers from the rough bines.

Hogs Back Hopper volunteer

Harvesting will start on Tuesday 30th August, bright and early, with Matthew and the Hoppers eager to get the ball rolling.

As the Hangar will be dedicated to harvest, it will be closed from Tuesday 30th August until Sunday 30th September, but the Tap Room and Beer Garden will be open with limited availability from Thursday – Sunday inclusive.  Please check out availability here.  So why not come along – you may even get to see the Hoppers and Matthew at work!  But if not, you’ll certainly smell the wonderful aroma of hops coming from the Hangar!

To follow the weekly updates from the harvest and from the rest of the Brewery, sign up to our newsletter below and follow us @HogsBackBrewery on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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