This month has been a little different for me, we had a fantastic beer festival in Reepham with Panther and the volunteers at Porkstock raised over £10,000 for Nelson’s Journey.
I have then been on my travels visiting breweries and seeing first hand the Craft Beer scene in Barcelona. Finally I have ended the month knee deep in hops.
Hops are one of the 4 main ingredients in brewing. They are used at different stages to give beer its aroma (ranging from citrus fruits to herbal earthy notes), some bitterness and to preserve the beer with its natural antiseptic qualities. What the brewer is looking for is the yellow orange resin from the hop heads, this resin is often mistaken for pollen as I discovered whilst visiting the National Hop Collection in Kent with the Anglian Craft Brewers. We were shown around this beautiful site by Dr Peter Darby, arguably the countries leading hop expert. I was amazed by the range of shapes, sizes and smells that surrounded me in the last rays of that days sun.
The question is why am I talking about hops in this edition? This is the time of year that you can walk along the hedge rows of England and see hops growing wild and ready to pick. A couple of our local brewers produce wild hopped beers, Adnams and Wildcraft. These brewers and lots of home brewers are always on the lookout for wild hops so if you do see some contact them. Even if they miss them this year, next year they will be back.
This year sees the first Norfolk brewery growing, harvesting and drying their own hops. All Day Brewing Company established its own quarter-acre hop garden in 2015. This September saw the launch of their inaugural Norfolk Hop Festival at the brewery’s Salle Moor Hall Farm site. The aim being to bringing together the local community, beer lovers, and those interested in traditional, sustainable farming to celebrate the picking and use of hops. The festival’s close is marked with a celebratory, limited-edition bottles of ‘Norfolk Green Hop Beer of the People’ being offered to each of the hop-pickers, without whom the hop harvest could not have been completed.
Head brewer, Simon Barker, said that;
“Harvesting in late summer, we brew with freshly picked green hops, which offer a different flavour profile. We then freeze the rest of the crop, and believe that we are in the unique position of being able to produce green-hopped beer throughout the year.”
Hops are not just used in brewing though, the plants can be cut and dried for decoration, used in cooking (hop salt is lovely) and as a member of the hemp family they have healing and health properties. So I hope that you excuse the change to this edition and me sharing my love of the hop.
Now I think it is time to find a pint of the award winning Mosaic City by Golden Triangle and immerse myself in hops.
Original article featured in Iceni Magazine Norfolk – Nibbles and Tipples September 2016