British Hop Harvest 2015
The British Hop harvest is dramatic, noisy, frenetic and does not last very long. In just a few weeks British hop farms will have completed the harvest of one of our oldest, most romantic, most fabulously aromatic British crops. British Hops are grown in Herefordshire & Worcestershire and in Kent, Surrey, Sussex & Hampshire.
During harvest the whole hop bines are taken out of the hopyards to a “picking” machine which strips the hop bine, separates the hop from the leaf and conveys the hops into the kilns where they are dried before being conditioned and baled for brewers all over the world.
It’s an old process: British Hops have been grown by farmers for over 500 years and were harvested by hand until the 1960’s. Since then the process has been mechanised. It’s a romantic process full of wonderful hop aromas: mango, lychee, orange, lemon, spice, mint, grass, molasses, blackcurrant, tangerine, summer fruits, pear, summer flowers, apricot and black pepper. It’s noisy, dramatic and unforgettable.
This year’s weather
The two biggest hop growing regions in the world (Washington State in the USA and Bavaria in Germany) have suffered from prolonged heat-waves and drought this summer which suggests yields may be lower than usual. And it has been dry in the UK too, especially in the South East. The British Hop Association is forecasting an average yielding crop this year.
What’s so special about British Hops?
British craft brewers often rave about new world American and New Zealand hops. In return American and New Zealand craft brewers rave about British Hops. These overseas brewers are seeking delicate, complex hop aromas to create drinkable session beers.
All British Hops share a wonderful terroir*– great soils and a unique mild maritime climate with fairly even rainfall throughout the year. British Hops use the natural resources available, which means they are very sustainable and the complex aromas make them perfect for brewing the best session beers in the world.
Brewers seeking intense flavours from British Hops, should consider:
• Jester hops – aromas of mango, lychee, tropical fruits
• Admiral hops – cooked marmalade, orangey citrus aromas
• Bramling Cross hops – blackcurrant, spicy lemon flavour
• UK Cascade hops – lychees, floral, grapefruit aromas
• Endeavour hops (a British daughter of Cascade) – aromas of citrus and summer fruits
On farm trial, we have some very exciting new varieties coming through that are hitting the high notes too. For a full list of British Hop varieties: http://www.britishhops.org.uk/british-hop-varieties/.
Today there are over 27 commercially grown British Aroma Hop varieties in the UK and British Hops represent 1.5% of world hop production (to put that in context, British wheat represent about 1% of world wheat production) Over 50% of British Hops are exported, in the main to the USA