It’s a wonderful summer day as we enter the marquee set up next to the lake at Pridewood hop farm in Ledbury. I’ve been invited on the annual Charles Faram hop walk, a chance to meet others in the brewing industry and look at new hop varieties, get updates on hop harvests across the world and to explore the processes that take the humble, oily green cone of Humulus lupulus to the finished product that adds so much to beer.
After trialling several beers with experimental new hop or malt varieties the two hundred attendees sat down to hear about the hop yields in the UK, US and Europe, the significance of the male plant and the growth of the British Hop Association. It was a great chance to network, meet suppliers and understand more about about why our hop industry is so important.
The highlight of the day is the hop walk – a guided trip around the farm itself. With a team of staff explaining the various stages it’s a good way to see the steps involved and the scale of growing, the differences between the varieties and how, at this time of the year, the teams of harvesters gather in the bines. There’s a wonderful contrast between the towering, vibrant green hops in the field and the thundering machinery used to strip and separate the cones from the rest of the plant: large barns full to the roof with clattering metal, meandering treadmills and wide, shimmeringly-hot kilns. The entire process, from planting to baling happens onsite and the volume of hops that are picked, dried and packed is impressive considering there are only a few weeks to get it all done when the hops are ready.
All in all a cracking trip, and great chance to catch up with brewers, growers and suppliers from all over the country – a big thanks goes to Ben Adams for the invite and to all at Charles Faram and Pridewood Farm for hosting the day.