Archive for the ‘Hop industry’ Category

Hogs Back Brewery’s new Hop Ground

Friday, May 16th, 2014

On Monday I  joined a number of other volunteers and Hogs back staff for a jolly day planting hops opposite the brewery in Tongham – a new experience for most of us

The group included celebrated beer journalists, Martyn Cornell and Roger Protz, as well as experts such as Dr Peter Darby of Wye Hops, Bill Biddell of the only other Surrey hop grower, Hampton Estates, and brewer Ed Wray whos article on the Farnham White Bine Hop appeared in ‘Brewery History’ recently

Martyn has written the day up beautifully on his blog so I won’t try and do the same, but do have a look if you have time-


I look forward to tasting the fruits of our labour in the fullness of time


George and Dragon North of Stotfold; “Hop Porter” / “Hop Sampler”

Friday, April 5th, 2013

My Mother-in-Law, Doris Rogers (nee Dilley), was a very long-standing landlady in various McMullens pubs in Hertfordshire and knew the brewery family. In the mid 1800s her grandmother, Edith Dilley, later Gaylor (nee Craft), ran a pub called the George and Dragon North of Stotfold and I would like to research her brewery connections. Edith Craft was widowed and ran the pub under her second husband’s name Gaylor

I am particularly keen to find out about my Great Grandfather Alexander MacPherson whose only records are BMD certs and Census but these show he worked as a “Hop Porter” and latterly a “Hop Sampler” based in Bermondsey 1874 to 1895.   I guess this possibly means he may have worked at the “Hop Exchange” or could these specialist occupations be common in the individual breweries?

Best Regards

Andy McPherson

Finchcocks Oast House episode of The Restoration Man

Monday, December 10th, 2012

We have had the following note from a TV production company

A number of BHS members, including Peter Tann and Peter Darby, have helped with this


I hope you are well. Just to let you know that it has now been confirmed that the Finchcocks Oast House episode of The Restoration Man is transmitting on Thursday 27th December, 9pm on Channel 4. Do please spread the word.


Many thanks for all your help and I do hope you enjoy the programme!


Best wishes,


Book on Hops

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

The following flyer has come into the ‘office’. I repeat it here as it’s likely to be of interest to readers. I have not seen the book and can offer no comment on its merits.

Out of the Hay and into the Hops

Hop cultivation in Wealden Kent and hop marketing in Southwark, 1744-2000

by Celia Cordle

“utterly fascinating” Journal of Kent History

“As an insight into an iconic rural landscape, this an excellent guide.” Rural History

Out of the Hay and into the Hops explores the history and development of hop cultivation in the Weald of Kent together with the marketing of this important crop in the Borough at Southwark (where a significant proportion of Wealden hops were sold). A picture emerges of the relationship between the two activities, as well as of the impact this rural industry had upon the lives of the people engaged in it.

Dr Cordle draws extensively on personal accounts of hop work to evoke a way of life now lost for good. Oral history, together with evidence from farm books and other sources, records how the steady routine of hop ploughing and dung spreading, weeding and spraying contrasted with the bustle and excitement of hop picking (bringing in, as it did, many itinerant workers from outside the community to help with the harvest) and the anxious period of drying the crop. For hops, prey to the vagaries of weather and disease, needed much care and attention to bring them to fruition. In early times their cultivation provided work for more people than any other crop.

The diverse processes of hop cultivation are examined within the wider context of events such as the advent of rail and the effects of war, as are changes to the working practices and technologies used, and their reception and implementation in the Weald. Meanwhile, in the Borough, an enclave of hop factors and merchants, whose interests sometimes conflicted with those of the hop growers, arose and then suffered decline. A full account of this trade is presented, including day-to-day working practices, links with the Weald, and the changes in hop marketing following Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community.

This book provides readers with a fascinating analysis of some three hundred years of hop history in the Weald and the Borough. Hops still grow in the Weald; in the Borough, the Le May façade and the gates of the Hop Exchange are reminders of former trade.

Celia Cordle studied English Local History at the University of Leicester and was awarded her PhD in 2006. Her doctoral thesis won Kent Archaeological Society’s inaugural Hasted Prize in 2007.

Studies in Regional and Local History, Volume 9

ISBN 978-1-907396-03-8

February 2011, 200pp

Hardback £35.00 / US$80.00

ISBN 978-1-907396-04-5

September 2011, 200pp

Paperback £18.99 / US$37.95

Surphured Hops

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

John Robinson has raised a query relating to a project, as follows:

I have become involved with a small micro brewery in Warrington , called ‘The Tipsy Angel’. The brewery is located in some out buildings at the rear of the Lower Angel pub in Buttermarket Street , in Warrington.

We are dedicated to producing the old Walkers recipes from the 1960’s, and have had some help from the old Walkers chemist, Stewart Thompson. Ironically Walkers used Marston’s yeast in their beers. And the man accredited with the Burton Union system, was none other than Peter Walker. I will keep you and the BHS informed of progress.

In a follow up message John goes on-

The old recipes made reference to sulphured hops. Is this process still going on, or has the EU banned it? Can you recommend someone who can help?

Walkers was a particularly sulphurous beer with heavy Burtonisation of the water.

Many thanks,

John Robinson

We pointed John to Dr Peter Darby as the leading expert on hops (and member of the BHS editorial board), and he has replied as follows:


No-one in the world now uses sulphur in the kilns during drying of hops. It was prohibited first in the USA and then by the Institute of Brewing and other brewing organisations because of the detrimental effect on yeast function during brewing.

Finding an alternative raises some interesting possibilities. Sulphur is still used during the growing of hops to protect against powdery mildew infection. This is much more a feature of hop growing in the Hereford and Worcester area than any other part of the UK, or indeed elsewhere in the world. It is unlikely that much, if any, residue will carry over from the field – but some might.

Sulphur was used in the kilns to bleach the hops to remove any discoloration due to disease or over-ripeness. As a consequence of its prohibition, hops are now picked much earlier than they would have been 40 years ago to avoid the progressive browning of hops during September as they mature and start to enter senescence. Also to reduce the ingress of disease after the last sprays have been applied in early August. So, the taste and aroma that you seek may have been a result of using hops harvested late in the season, or diseased hops, especially those with powdery mildew.

I hope that this gives an explanation of some of the factors which might have made the hops used in the old recipes of Walkers at the Tipsy Angel Brewery different from today’s hops. To reproduce them, I would suggest you seek low alpha hops from Herefordshire or Worcestershire which have been harvested as late as possible in September, or even early October, and which are not of the highest grade, indicating that they have a small amount of powdery mildew infection. This is only a suggestion. The effects you are talking about are more likely the result of the yeast strain used and the water rather than any contribution from the hops.

Best regards,


John then circulated a couple of example pages from a Walker’s Brewing Book, which Peter looked at –

Looking at the page from the Walkers book that you attached to the mail below, I see that the hops used had been in store for over a year – the mix used in 1961 had hops mostly from the 1959 harvest of Fuggles in the West Midlands, supplemented by a few hops from Kent from the 1960 harvest. I also note that not all the hops had been sulphured. So, I would add using old stored hops to my suggestion of using lower grade; low alpha hops from the West Midlands.

It is difficult to read the writing to try and find the farms which supplied the hops. The Kent farm is clearly Ladysden Farm and is labelled EK. This is a bit of a contradiction because the farm is most likely to be at Ladysden, Winchet Hill near Goudhurst which is not in East Kent. I would guess, therefore that the EK refers to the variety and is likely to be East Kent Goldings. The Hereford farms are less obvious but could just be read as Pomona and Dormington. These were part of the same estate in 1959 and were certainly growing Fuggles.

Best regards,


What a fascinating exchange. My thanks to both Peter and John – hopefully it will encourage other similar discussions on this forum.

Faversham Hop Festival & Talk

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Peter Tann has sent me the following note about his forthcoming talk and the Hop Festival weekend:

When we met at that very good day out in Oxford and Witney, I mentioned that I was giving a talk entitled ‘The business of hops in the 19th century’.  This is to be part of the annual Hop Festival in Faversham.  The festival itself takes place over the weekend of 4-5 September.

My talk is scheduled for Thursday 9 September at the Drill Hall, Preston Street, Faversham, starting at 7.30pm.

A question on hops from Switzerland

Friday, October 16th, 2009

A question on hops from Switzerland

 Hello from Switzerland!I’m taking part to a medieval reconstitution group in ma area (Fribourg) in Switzerland, specialized in 1420 – 1480 and for the artisanal aspect of the life at this range. I’m trying to find as you suspect beer recipe and process. Do you cover this on your blog in England? I cannot find.Or maybe in Europe/France/Germany/Switzerland ? Everything I found is starting 1600/1700.If I’m not wrong hops are landing into throws around 1400-1450 in England no, in parallel with the gruit ale? Beer vs ale :o)I ask also to Durden Park, but they don’t have source for this period. Maybe you?Or do you know medieval group around in UK?Brewerly, Dom   

We copied this to Ian Hornsey who replied as follows. Other contributions, as ever, would be very welcome


Regarding the enquiry, I have no reliable records of recipes from this era. Being ‘inland’, and far from the Hansa towns further north, I suspect that the hop would not have been used for brewing in medieval Switzerland. Cultivation of the plant may not have reached that far south. I suggest that Dom looks at Unger’s two books, and Nordland’s epic (even tho’ the latter relates to matters further north). Also, advise him to look up details of the old monastery at St. Gall – I know of early records, but there might be some later ones. He will almost certainly know about this.

 References are:Nordland, Odd. Brewing and Beer Traditions in Norway. Universitetsforlaget, Oslo. 1969.Unger, R.W. A History of Brewing in Holland 900-1900. Brill, Leiden. 2001. Unger, R.W. Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. PA. 2004.  (Austria mentioned on pp.50, 54, 107, 161, 217, 246 – no mention of Switzerland) Best,Ian

ESSEX BREWERS, and the Malting and Hop Industries of the County

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

ESSEX BREWERS, and the Malting and Hop Industries of the County
Author: Ian P Peaty

We are sorry but this publication is now out of stock, however it may be available from libraries and archives.  

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