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Morse rides to the rescue of English hops

Added: Monday, July 22nd 2013

A new hop called Endeavour has been bred in a bid to halt the decline of English hops and to offer the rich citrus fruit character many brewers demand. Endeavour was developed by Dr Peter Darby at Wye Hops in Kent and grown by Ali and Richard Capper on their Stocks Farm on the Hereford/Worcester border.

It’s a cross between the American Cascade variety – renowned for its pungent grapefruit character – and an unnamed English hedgerow hop. Hedgerow or dwarf hops were first developed in Britain and grow to half the height of conventional varieties. The best-known hedgerow hop is First Gold and is widely used by British brewers.

Endeavour has been unveiled by Marston’s as part of the Burton brewers’ Single Hop series of pale ales. Using the same 4% ABV pale ale, Marston’s introduces a new beer every other month.

Endeavour has a powerful aroma of hop resins and tart orange fruit with pepper and spices. Bitterness builds in the mouth with juicy malt, bitter hops and tart fruit. The long and lingering finish is well-balanced between sappy malt, tart and tangy fruit and peppery hop resins.


Ali Capper, a leading member of the British Hop Association, told me she and her husband Richard first planted Endeavour in 2010 and to date they are the only growers of the variety. But two more growers have now planted the hop with more due to come on stream by 2014.

Dr Darby says he used an English-grown version of Cascade for his development of Endeavour. “It’s a more restrained hop than the American version and it's wilt tolerant” – meaning it’s more resistant to the diseases that plague English hops.

The beer is brewed at Marston’s Banks’s brewery in Wolverhampton. Brewer Simon Yates, who is in charge of the Single Hop programme, named it Endeavour in honour of Colin Dexter’s famous beer-loving detective Inspector Morse. It was revealed in the final Morse novel that his first name was Endeavour. His parents were strict Quakers and his father was obsessed with Captain Cook’s ship called Endeavour. It was Cook who first brought brewing to Australasia when he made some rudimentary beer to cure his crew of scurvy.

Ali and Richard Capper grow 80,000 kilos of hops every year. Their varieties include the two main hedgerow hops, First Gold and Sovereign, along with Target, Pilgrim, Phoenix, Goldings and Bramling Cross. Both have farming in their blood. Richard has lived at Stocks Farm all his life, while Ali (pictured) is a farmer’s daughter. She worked in marketing and advertising before returning to farming and she has brought her marketing skills to the British Hop Association. She has developed a vigorous campaign to revitalise an industry in serious decline as a result of the high level of imported hops from Europe, the U.S. and New Zealand.

Ali Capper

Endeavour is a hedgerow variety. Simon Yates at Banks’s says the advantages of hedgerow hops is that labour costs for picking are reduced significantly as the “low trellis” varieties can be harvested mechanically rather than manually. The harvesting techniques used remove much of the plant’s leaf, reducing the time for stripping leaves on the farm. The cost of wire work is also far lower, with simple short fencing replacing the complex of poles and strings needed for tall varieties.

Hedgerow hops also use lower levels of pesticides and allow for predators such as beatles and ladybirds to live at the base of the plants and attack aphids that can destroy whole fields of hops. Predators enjoy living among dwarf hops but are deterred by the height of conventional plants. As hedgerow hops develop, hop growing will become a “greener” industry, using far fewer agri-chemicals.

*Endeavour Technical Data:

Dwarf variety, Cascade/hedgerow cross. Alpha acids 8-10.5%. Beta acids 3.8-5.3%. Cohumulone % of alpha acids 30-36. Total oils 1.1-1.7 ml/100g. % of total oils: myrcene 27-37%; humulene 3-10%; farnesene 5-8%.

Marston’s Single Hop beers for 2013: East Kent Goldings, Jan-Feb; Pacific Gem NZ March-April; Amarillo U.S. May/June; Endeavour July-Aug; Wakatu NZ Sept-Oct; El Dorado U.S. Nov/Dec.

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