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Marston's boost for ancient Kent hop farm

Added: Monday, October 24th 2016

Marston's Hop Garden

New life has been breathed into an ancient Kent hop farm thanks to a major investment by national brewer Marston’s. Hops have been grown at Hayle Farm in Horsmonden for around 400 years and production will now expand as the Burton brewer has asked farther and son farmers Clive and Richard Edmed to plant new fields of the Sovereign variety.

Thanks to a five-year investment programme, the Edmeds will grow Sovereign and will trial new varieties for Marston’s to use when planning a fresh range of beers. Sovereign is already used by Marston’s in a number of its award-winning beers.

Marston’s Hop Garden will have two acres of land set aside in an area previously grazed by sheep. The land was cleared in 2015 and 30 rows of new hop trellises were installed. Following two years of growth, Marston’s will start to realise the fruits of its investment with its first full harvest. As well as Burton-on-Trent, Marston’s also brews at Banks’s in Wolverhampton, Brakspear and Wychwood in Oxfordshire, Ringwood in Hampshire and Jennings in Cumbria.

Marston’s head brewer Patrick McGinty says: “Sovereign are used by Marston’s as a bittering hop for several of our beers and we’re delighted that this long-term partnership brings us one step closer along the supply chain while opening up new opportunities for one of our suppliers.”

Marston’s Hop Garden was the result of a meeting between Marston’s director of brewing Emma Gilleland and the Edmeds while they were attending the annual meeting of English Hops at the Burton brewery.

Hayle Farm covers 350 acres with production split between apples, pears, plums, gooseberries, blackcurrants and hops. The hop acreage is currently 65 acres and consists of seven varieties: Goldings, Progress, First Gold, Sovereign, Pilgrim, Endeavour and Target.