The Hogs Back Brewery hop garden in Tongham is to be the star of the show on BBC Radio 4’s On Your Farm programme later this month.
The edition of the popular long-running farming show to be broadcast on 19 May, focuses on the brewery’s successful move to the new, larger hop garden and hop kiln on its Manor Farm site, as well as the revival of the Farnham White Bine hop variety.
On Your Farm presenter Sarah Swadling spent a day at the brewery and hop farm, where she spoke to Hogs Back managing director Rupert Thompson, hop garden manager Matthew King, and head brewer Miles Chesterman.
Swadling also heard from members of the Tongham TEA Club, who had been drafted in for the all-important Hop Twiddling process, which helps ensure the hop shoots grow strongly up the garden’s network of strings. Xxx, TEA Club member said: “Sarah was interested that we’re all volunteers working for the love of it – as well a couple of beers - but it’s great to get out in the open, as well as to feel that we’re part of the story of our local brewer.”
Thompson said, “We were delighted to welcome Sarah and On Your Farm to the brewery and hop garden. Hogs Back is one of a growing number of ‘farm brewers’ in the UK, with a rural, farming heritage that gives them a deep understanding of the ingredients used in brewing.
“We talked to Sarah about our decision to carefully transplant the hop plants from the original garden to the new site to ensure continuity, as well as our revival of the Farnham White Bine, which was once highly prized by brewers, but declined at the start of the last century. These are great farming stories which we’re sure will appeal to the programme’s audience.”
Hogs Back’s new hop garden occupies 8.5 acres of prime farmland on Manor Farm, where the brewery was founded 27 years ago. With anchors, posts and several miles of hop wire in place, 2,000 hop plants were lifted from the old garden and a further 4,000 new ones planted. Three varieties grown on the new site will be harvested this summer: Fuggles, Cascade and Farnham White Bine.
Hogs Back’s original hop garden featured in the BBC TV Countryfile programme in 2016.
The episode of On Your Farm recorded in the hop garden and brewery will be broadcast at 6.35am on Sunday 19 May, and will also be available on BBC Sounds.