Big campaign launched to boost UK hops
Added: Tuesday, April 23rd 2013
A major campaign to revive and sustain British hops was launched in London on 23 April at a seminar attended by brewers from both the UK and overseas. Keynote speaker Ali Capper of the British Hop Association stressed that with 20 varieties of hops and more under development, British growers can offer a wide portfolio of aromas and flavours to brewers.
The seminar was organised by the British Food & Beverages Industries (BFBi), which is also hosting the International Brewing Awards in London. It supports the hop association’s determination to stop the decline of the industry.
In 1872 72,000 acres in England were devoted to hop growing. Today the figure stands at just 2,500 acres. While the number of British breweries is more than 1,000 – the biggest number since the 1930s – many brewers prefer to import New World hop varieties from the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
Ali Capper pointed out that while Britain grows 20 varieties, the industry accounts for just 2% of world hops. Germany has only a few more varieties – 25-30 – but accounts for 37% of world hops while the U.S., with some 40 varieties, has a 28% share.
She added that Britain had made important contributions to the appreciation and use of hops. British hop growers pioneered the development of hedgerow hops that grow to half the height of conventional varieties that are easier to pick and are less prone to attack by pests and disease.
A 10-year programme by Wye Hops, led by Dr Peter Darby, is developing new varieties, including a wilt-resistant version of Britain’s oldest hop, the Fuggle. Hop growers are keen to offer varieties that are resistant to pests and disease but which also need fewer chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
Ali Capper said that British hops offer aromas of citrus, tangerine, grass, grapefruit, blackcurrant, honey, loganberry, spice, pepper, apricot, lychees, lemon and marmalade – matching anything the New World can offer.
British hops varieties include: Admiral, Beata, Boadicea, Bramling Cross, Cascade, Challenger, East Kent Goldings, Endeavour, First Gold, Fuggles, Goldings, Northdown, Phoenix, Pilgrim, Pilot, Pioneer, Progress, Sovereign, Target and WGV.
*The East Kent Golding, a variety that dates from the 19th century, hopes to be given a Certificate of Authenticity from the European Union.