Tag Archives: Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight

3,000 pints of Kent Green Hop Beer

As you might have guessed visitors to our tent at Canterbury Food & Drink Festival last weekend got through about 3,000 pints of #KGHB. You surely love Kent Green Hop Beer!

Also at the Festival we held our first beer competition, judged – in a blind tasting so they didn’t know which beer was which – by a dedicated team headed by Gill Keay of the Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable branch of CAMRA.

Beer judging is serious business

Beer judging is serious business

The competition was kindly sponsored by Muntons, with the winner not only receiving the Green Hop Cup but a marvellous pallet of malt for their efforts.

paul-kent-brewery-kghb-cup-winnerAnd the winner is… Kent Brewery Green Giant, a 6% IPA packed with East Kent Goldings. Always a favourite with drinkers it clearly wowed the judges too.

Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight now continues at the county’s pubs and clubs. Micropubs especially seem keen to support the Fortnight and we especially thank those who mention @KentGreenHop when they tweet what beers they have on as this enables us to RT and keep you posted of what’s on and where.

If you are a licensee who’s serving Kent Green Hop Beer email me a pic of you and one of your pub and we will try and hail you as a #KGHB supporter. This is in lieu of not being able to update our ‘where to drink’ section this year.

One Inn the Wood, Orpington is particularly hot on tweeting its Kent Green Hop delights, The Long Pond, Eltham also tweets us now and again and we know The London Tavern, Margate was especially excited about stocking #KGHB this year. (Apologies to anyone I’ve forgotten).

Let us know and we’ll do our best to let everyone else know.

Coming soon… a preview of West Kent CAMRA‘s beer festival in October featuring lots of Kent Green Hop Beer.

More hops for Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight

It’s official. The UK is growing 8% more hops than last year – with around half the extra acreage in Kent.

Last year the amount of hops grown had dropped back to little more than 2,200 acres but it’s now risen to nearly 2,400 acres. Some of the increase is made up of traditional British hops such as Goldings and Bramling Cross but newer varieties like Jester and the Kent variety OZ97a are also part of the rise.

It’s also been revealed that OZ97a finally has a name. It’s now known as Ernest after the man who bred it, Professor Ernest Salmon of the hop breeding programme at Wye College.

In other news, harvest season is upon us, which means brewers across Kent will soon be making their green hop beers.

According to the British Hop Association this year’s crop was running a bit behind because of a late spring but excellent weather conditions over the last few weeks allowed the hops to catch up so harvest can start as normal in the week following the August Bank Holiday.

Hop Harvest by Stocks FarmThe hop harvest is dramatic, noisy, frenetic and lasts for just a few weeks. Tall hops are harvested by cutting the whole bine and taking it to a hop picking machine where unwanted stems, shoots and leaves are separated from the hops. Low trellis, or hedge, hops are harvested mechanically using a machine developed from a blackcurrant harvester. The hop and leaf is taken to the hop picking machine where the hop is separated from the leaf.

The most important aspect of hop farming is the drying. Hops contain more than 80% moisture when picked. In order to store them this is reduced to about 10%. They are then made into bales of between 60-85kg.

Green hops are used fresh, within 12 hours of picking in Kent, instead of drying them.

Featured hop: Pilgrim

Pilgrim is a British hop variety bred by the Hop Research Institute at Wye College (we might have to do a post just about that at some point!). It became commercially available in 2001. It’s a tall variety but its parents, First Gold and Herald, are dwarf varieties. (Dwarf varieties or hedge hops were bred to be easier and cheaper to grow and pick as they only grow to around eight feet instead of up to 20 feet).Pilgrim courtesy British Hop Association

Don’t be put off, but one of the biggest users of Pilgrim has been Molson Coors who at one time (and perhaps still, I’m waiting for their press office to get back to me) used it as a bittering hop in Carling lager!

Pilgrim is what is know as a dual-purpose hop. Good for bittering, which means it is used early in the boil stage of brewing, and also used later in the boil as an aroma hop. It’s good news for growers too as it’s said to be a vigorous hop and is very resistant to wilt and mildew – two of hops great enemies.

Pilgrim means something to me because Tonbridge Brewery have green hopped their Capel Pale (4.5%) with it on more than one occasion (and will do again this year as far as we know). It gave a lovely citrus bitterness to the beer, with orange notes and a dry, earthy finish. Certainly much more memorable than a pint of Carling.

Pig & Porter have plans to green hop one of their core beers with Pilgrim this year so look out for Green Spider Rye later on in the Fortnight – as Pilgrim tends to be harvested later than some other varieties.

Meet the Kent Green Hop brewers: Toby Simmonds of Kent Brewery

Like many a good and auspicious plan Kent Brewery was founded after a ‘bloke I met down the pub’ conversation.

Paul Herbert and Toby Simmonds got chatting about how Paul wanted to start a brewery and they decided to join forces. They produced their first beers in October – so Kent Brewery will soon be celebrating its 5th Birthday.

Toby Simmonds of Kent Brewery looking a little serious.

Toby Simmonds of Kent Brewery looking a little serious.

There’s a few names in the British brewing scene that automatically make those in the beery know nod appreciatively – one of them being Dark Star (from over the border in Sussex) – Toby began his brewing career as a trainee there.

Before becoming a brewer he’d gone to agricultural college but when farming didn’t work out as a career he made the move into the sciences working for Cancer Research UK.

“I’ve never looked back since becoming a brewer,” says Toby. “One of the things I’m most passionate about is new hop varieties that can compete with the more vibrant and aromatic varieties produced in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

“Paul and I encourage research into developing these new hops, and look forward to the day when they help revive the hop industry in Kent.”

They practice what they preach when it comes to big flavours to compete with imported hops. Sixty kilos of East Kent Goldings are packed into their Green Giant IPA (6%) and the beer has quite a following – with pubs placing orders for it weeks in advance.

Green Giant will be available at the Green Hop Beer tent at Canterbury Food & Drink Festival this weekend (Fri 25th – Sun 27th Sept) at pubs throughout Kent and select pubs in London.

For more about Kent Brewery visit their website: www.kentbrewery.com

COMING SOON: The Kent Green Hop Beer List 2015 will be published this Tuesday 22nd September at around 12 noon!

Hop of the week: Bullion

Following on from last week’s look at East Kent Goldings, our second hop of the week is: Bullion.

Bullion is thought of as a new hop variety but it’s actually almost a hundred years old. It was developed back in 1919 at renowned agricultural school Wye College which was home to a pioneering hop breeding programme led by Professor Ernest Salmon – whose work influenced hop breeding and development throughout the world.

A type of wild hop known as Manitoban was Bullion’s ‘parent’. (Hops are what is known as ‘diecious’ which means there are male and female plants. Female hops produce the cones used in brewing, while male plants are – as you might imagine – useful for breeding purposes!). The variety was created by crossing different male and and female plants through natural pollination as part of efforts to develop hops that were disease resistant.

Bullion hops by Ross Hukins

It would take some 30 years before Bullion was being grown commercially with much of the crop being used by Guinness. But come the 1960s there was something of a Bullion backlash as brewers began to complain the hop’s flavour was too strong, that it tasted American, and even that it was reminiscent of cat’s wee!

Some spoke up for the hop though suggesting if it were boiled for longer the undesirable aroma would decrease and others bemoaned the way tastes had changed in the late 1940s with people now desiring milder flavours in food and less bitter beer – a fashion which poor old Bullion fell foul of.

In the 21st Century beer drinker’s tastes have changed again and American hops are all the rage so it’s perhaps not a surprise that Bullion is making a comeback – with Tenterden-based Hukins Hops at the forefront of its return. (Look out for an interview with Ross Hukins which we’ll post during the Fortnight).

Although it’s said to have both spicy and blackcurrant flavours and aromas it seems – as is the way with fresh/undried hops – to behave quite differently in green hop beer. Wantsum Brewery made a Bullion beer for last year’s Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight, but rather than having a blackcurrant character it had a floral aroma and tasted like apricots and mandarin oranges – but it did pack a zingy, hoppy punch which some might describe as spicy.

Kent Green Hop Fortnight begins at Canterbury Food & Drink Festival on Friday 25th Sept.

Bexley Brewery, Caveman Brewery and Wantsum Brewery are among those using Bullion in their green hop beers this year.

Hop of the week: East Kent Goldings (aka EKG)

Hops have been grown in Britain since around the 1500s but the exact details of when they arrived and cultivation began are a matter of some debate – which we won’t go into here and now! Instead each week in the run up to and during Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight we’ll bring you ‘Hop of the week’ – featuring some of the most popular and interesting hops used in Kent Green Hop Beers.

Our first Hop of the Week is: East Kent Goldings (also known as EKG).

East Kent Goldings are the first and only British hop to have a protected designation of origin or PDO. This means if a hop says it’s an East Kent Golding s300_east-kent-goldings(because obviously hops jump up and tell you what they are all the time!) it must be grown in a specific area of east Kent: to the east of the A249 Sheerness road, to the north of the M20 between junction 7 and Folkestone with the rest of the boundary being the coastline. It must also be able to prove itself an EKG through a ‘chemical fingerprint’ as the variety has certain unique characteristics that set it apart from other hops – and other types of Goldings.

It’s no mean feat to secure PDO status. The EKGs grown today are derived from collections made by hop researchers at Wye College in the 1890s and 1920s and East Malling Research station in the 1940s – with both institutions having verified their origins. The physical description and structure of the EKG also exactly matches accounts of the variety by growers, scientists and agronomists (people who study how best to cultivate and utilise plants) since the early 1800s.

The history of EKGs can be traced back as far as the early 1790s and a hop, then known as Canterbury Whitebine, selected by a Mr Golding and which proved to be a much superior hop when grown in East Kent.

The soil and conditions of East Kent, brick earth over chalk and cold, salt-laden winds, give the EKG its characteristic flavour and aroma. Its fragrance is said to be a mixture of citrus, lemon and floral notes and once dried the hops bring a rich marmalade flavour to the beer. A ‘mineral quality’ is also spoken of and is said to give backbone and structure to the finished brew.

EKG being harvested. Pic courtesy of Kent Brewery

Freshly harvested EKG. Pic courtesy of Kent Brewery.

Of course, fresh, green East Kent Goldings (in common with all fresh, green hops) taste and behave differently to dried hops – but that doesn’t stop it being one of the most popular hops used in Kent Green Hop Beer.

Look out for East Kent Goldings in green hop beers from: Canterbury Ales, The Foundry Brewpub, Goachers, Goody Ales, Kent Brewery, Mad Cat and others to be confirmed!

KGHB news: don’t forget the Fortnight starts on Friday 25th September at Canterbury Food & Drink Festival. Details on our updated Canterbury F&D page.

Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight 2015

It’s happening – and it starts in a month’s time!

Put the dates of Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight in your diary: Fri 25 Sept to Sun 11th October. Yes it’s a bit longer than a Fortnight because we want to extend the joys of Kent Green Hop Beer as much as we can!

What’s on?

Launch Weekend: As usual it all kicks off at Canterbury Food & Drink Festival from Fri 25th to Sun 27th September. We’ve got a bigger tent this year and we’ll also have green hop beer-infused smoked brisket and ribs for you – courtesy of chefs from the Foundry Brewpub.

NEW for 2015: West Kent Green Hop Festival at The Poacher & Partridge in Tonbridge, 2 – 4th October. Music, dancing, food, craft stalls and – most importantly – a wide selection of Kent Green Hop Beer! More details to follow.

Poacher Green Hop Festival pic

Returning for 2015: East Kent Open Day (Sat 10th Oct) – where Gadds’, Goody Ales, Wantsum Brewery, The Foundry Brewpub and Canterbury Ales open their doors to the public (noon – 9pm) and various buses will take punters from brewery to brewery to drink green hop beer and meet the people that make it.

You can also find Kent Green Hop Beers at Broadstairs Food Festival 2-4 Oct and CAMRA’s Spa Valley Railway beer festival 23-25 Oct.

News of the brews: Some 27 breweries are expected to make a Kent Green Hop Beer this year. Here’s a round up of some of their plans.

Caveman Brewery, betwixt Dartford and Gravesend, will be making three green hop beers this year, including the new Swanscombe Woman – which is named after the skull found in the former Barnfield Pit quarry (now Swanscombe Heritage Park). It will be a 4.7% hoppy brown ale, brewed by Helen Farrow who’ll be using Bullion hops – an old English variety which has been quite successful when grown in North America and is now being grown again in Kent.

Larkins Brewery in Chiddingstone (west of Tonbridge) make their green hop beers with the produce of their own hop garden! Green Hop Best (4%) will feature Goldings and Bramling Cross and last year won Champion Beer of the Festival at the 2014 CAMRA/Spa Valley Railway event in Tunbridge Wells.

Musket Brewery of Linton (near Maidstone) are brewing twice as much of their Flash in the Pan as they did last year. Being a small brewery that means just 40 casks… didn’t we always tell you Green Hop Beer is an exclusive, get-it-while-you-can drink?

The Foundry Brewpub, Canterbury – leading lights and one of the founders of KGHBF – are going mad for green hops as usual. They’ll be making four different beers including Green Chapel (4.6%) in collaboration with Christ Church University as part of its Beer, Bread and Honey project – through which it will growing its own food, herbs and hops, keeping beehives and baking in a community bread oven.

Goacher’s Brewery in Maidstone are launching a new green hop beer for 2015, previously having made a green hop version of their Silver Star. Look out this year for Goacher’s Green Hop Ale (3.9%) a pale ale, late hopped entirely with green East Kent Goldings.

Young woman pouring KGHB 2013 LOW RES

If you haven’t received this by email sign up for alerts (see box top left of page) so you don’t miss out on our features, news, updates on where to drink and … the 2015 beer list. All of which will be posted in the coming weeks. Now you can start crossing off the days till Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight begins!

Final day at Canterbury F & D Fest

Our Green Hop Bar at Canterbury Food & Drink Festival has proved as popular as ever. We are back there today (Sunday 28th Sept) but some of the beers have already sold out.

Here’s a list – put together at bar opening time – of which beers we still have. Take note! These won’t last all day (we had no beer left by 4pm last year) – so we advise coming with an open mind in case your first choice has already sold out.

Canterbury Ales: Pale Green (5.3%); Auburn Green (4.3%)

Canterbury Brewers/The Foundry: Simply Saison (4.5%); Le Petit Belge (4.4%); Single Hopped Pale Ale (3.6%)

Caveman Brewery: Bakers Hole Mild (3.5%)

Gadds’: Green Hop Ale (4.8%)

Goody Ales: Genesis Green Hop (3.5%); Good Harvest (3.8%)

Larkins Brewery: Ask for details at bar

Old Dairy: Early Fuggles (4%); Challenger (4%)

Pig & Porter: Purest Green (4.5%); Strangely Brown (4.4%)

Shepherd Neame: Tallyman’s Special (4.5%)

Time and Tide: Green Hop Pale (5.1%)

Tonbridge Brewery: Capel Pale (4.5%)

Wantsum Brewery: Bramling Cross (4%); Fuggles (4.5%); Bullion (4.5%)

Westerham Brewery: Scotney Green Hop Harvest Ale 1 (4.5%)

Whitstable Brewery: Grafty Green Hop (4.8%)

END of list.

‘Look forward to seeing you at the bar… and don’t forget Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight has only just begun. See our ‘where to drink‘ section to find a pub near you that has Kent Green Hop Beer.