British Hops Making A Come Back: Are British Hops The New Grapes?
It was at a Hop Walk at Pridewood Farm, near Ledbury, Herefordshire last year that Ali Capper from the British Hop Association stood up to address 320 craft brewers from around the UK. And her message was simple: British Hops should be an important part of a brewer’s hop portfolio. And these are the reasons why…
• There are over 20 commercially grown British Hop varieties
• Not bad from only 1.6% of world hop production. By comparison, Germany with almost 40% of world hop production only grow about 25 hop varieties
• That makes British Hop growers very innovative and it’s fair to say that British Hop breeding has led world hop breeding for over 100 years
• We have some very exciting aromas: Tangerine, citrus, grass, grapefruit, chocolate, blackcurrant, spice, pepper, apricot, marmalade, mint – have you tried them all?
• Our hop growing “terroir” is unique – every other hop-growing region in the world is continental, hot summers, colder winters. Very different to our uniquely maritime climate
• And as a result we grow some of the most delicate, complex and complimentary aromas in the world, that make some of the most drinkable beer in the world
• Most UK hops are not irrigated, making them some of the most sustainable in the world
• We have some high intense aroma hops too: Admiral, Phoenix, Target, Bramling Cross, UK Cascade and of course Endeavour
• So British Hops should be an important part of a Brewer’s hop repertoire
Ali’s message last year was simple: please don’t walk away from your home-grown industry. We’re small, we’re listening hard to deliver what you need, and we need you.
So fast forward a year to Wed 5th September 2013, this year’s Charles Faram Hop Walk for over 400 Brewers from all over the UK was held at The Capper’s Stocks Farm in Worcestershire and Ali was invited to speak again. She felt that she should start by thanking all the brewers who were already big supporters & promoters of British Hops; and the large numbers who, in the last year, have taken the challenge, bought more British Hops, brewed with more British Hops, talked about and promoted British Hops.
Ali reiterated that she had received a lot of positive comments, too many to mention everyone, but one sentence that she had received recently from a brewer was worth reading out as it summed up a lot of the feedback received in the last year:
“The following week I ordered some British Admiral from Charles Faram. A confirmed New World fan, I had always been a little wary of UK hops. The results were a revelation. Here was a hop that hadn’t travelled thousands of miles, that gave me the flavours I was seeking – and cheaper than US Cascade! From that moment UK Admiral would become a mainstay in our hop portfolio. We are now proud to proclaim that all our beers are brewed with British hops.” Receiving that email made all the hard work worthwhile!
So British Hops are making a come back!
And its what British consumers want, they want British provenance, they want homegrown, they want great fresh flavours, not food and drink that has been imported, they want less food miles, and they want food and drink of the highest quality: British Hops are produced to some of the highest standards in the world.
So Ali summarised her 2013 speech as follows:
1. Keep it up! And if a brewery has not brewed with British Hops she requested that they look again at British Hops and think about where their flavours could fit into the brewery’s beer portfolio
2. Follow the story on twitter @BritishHops
3. Don’t forget the website: www.britishhops.org.uk: which contains all the brewing analytics needed by variety. It was written with a lot of help from Dr Peter Darby and should be an invaluable brewing resource
4. If brewing with British Hops, please tell your customers. We have two logos, downloadable from the home page of the British Hops website. Use them on bottle labels, pump clips, posters, beer mats. Thank you to all of you who are already using them.
And finally, Ali laid down a challenge for the 2013 hop harvest to all the 400+ brewers present, please: “NAME THE HOPS”
• Name the variety of hop or hops on every beer produced
• Name the hop on the beer clip
• Name the hop on the bottle label
• Name the hop on the marketing materials
• Let’s make British Hop varieties stand out and make them really sought after
• Let’s make British beer drinkers want to drink a beer because of the British hop variety in the beer
• Let’s make British beer drinkers think like a wine drinker. You choose a wine because of the grape, let’s encourage beer drinkers to choose the beer because of the British hops in the recipe
British Hop Growers are very proud to be a part of the British Beer Scene and we need the brewing industry’s support more than ever. Based on last year’s response The British Hop Association is confident that this support will be forthcoming.