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Hogs Back restores historic hop to Surrey

Added: Monday, April 21st 2014

Hogs back hops

Hogs Back Brewery is planting a new 2 ½ acre traditional hop garden beside the brewery in Tongham, near Farnham, Surrey. This is the start of a larger initiative to link Hogs Back brewing with local raw materials and traditional farming skills. 

      Hogs Back will initially plant more than 2,000 plants, a combination of the original Farnham White Bine and the newer variety of Cascade. Farnham White Bine was the foundation of the area's pre-eminence in hop growing in the 18th and 19th centuries and used to command the highest prices in Britain -- at one time as much as 30% more than its Kent neighbours.The last White Bine garden in the area was grubbed up in 1929, the victime of downy mildew and cheaper imported varieties.   

      This is the first new hop garden in the immediate vicinity of Farnham for more than 50 years and is being planted on land that grew hops for almost 200 years. The remains of two traditional hop kiln buildings still exist in Tongham village.

      The soil is ideal for hops, being a deep, high quality loam with a light alkaline chalk overlay. The site is gently sloping on the northern lea of the Hogs Back ridge and well exposed to sun with wind protection from traditional poplar planting.

      The Hogs Back brewing team will plant and grow the hops themselves, with support from Bill and Bridget Biddell of Hampton Estates who grow all the brewery’s Fuggles hops, used in their flagship beer TEA. They are four miles away on the south of the Hogs Back ridge at Puttenham and will help with picking and drying.

      Agronomy advice will be provided by Dr Peter Darby of Wye Hops and the 20ft traditional wirework trellis system will be constructed by Mervyn Carless of Herefordshire, who has worked on many of the recently constructed hop gardens.

      The White Bine planting stock has been obtained from the National Hop Collection, which is maintained by Wye Hops on behalf of the British Hop Association, and has been grown for Hogs Back by specialist grower Stephen Wright at Inghams Farm, Suffolk. 

      Both White Bine and Cascade hop varieties will be used in beers that will be launched over the next 12 months, including exclusive beers for leading pub groups and a special beer featuring just these varieties.

      Hogs Back’s Hogstar New English Lager will also use some Cascade from the new hop garden to replace one of the North American aroma hops currently used late in the boil.

      Hogs Back will continue to use Fuggles hops for TEA, RIP, OTT and AoT. About half of the hops grown will eventually be used in Hogs Back’s own beers, and half sold to fellow brewers in Britain and U.S.

      Hogs Back has announced volume growth for the past financial year of 25%, led by TEA, with the recently launched HOGSTAR Lager showing rapid gains as it is featured in a range of leading London bars. 

Rupert Thompson, chairman of  Hogs Back Brewery, comments: "The Farnham White Bine was developed in the early 1700s by a Mr Peckham-Williams of Badshot Place, Farnham, which we can almost see from the brewery, and it commanded a high price because of the delicate, distinctive aroma and the care taken in growing, picking and packing by the Farnham growers. Hops are influenced by the soil and micro-climate in which they are grown, and we are really excited to bring a local hop of such importance back to its Hogs Back ares roots where it was first developed and from which Mr Golding selected his hops to produce the world-renownmed Goldings. It will be amazing -- almsts 100 years later -- to taste the flavours of such an important raw ingredient in our future beers when the hop bines mature.

"It will be wonderful to look out from the brewery and see the raw materials we use growing in the next door field - that’s local! That is part of what makes the craft brewing revival so exciting and we hope to build on this initiative with some further interesting innovations”.

 *Pictured: Rupert Thompson dressed in green with Bill Biddell of Hamptonm Estates and members of the Hogs Back Brewery team.