The Variety of British Hops – Have you heard of these?
Guest post by Felicity from Stocks FarmHomebrew Hops.
How many British Hop varieties can you name? If Fuggles and Goldings are the only ones on the tip of your tongue, then you’re missing out on a huge range of wonderful hop aromas and flavours.
Hops have been grown in Britain for over 500 years. Kent, Herefordshire and Worcestershire are the main British growing areas. There are around 1,000 hectares of hops (about 2,500 acres) in total.
During the harvest months, the air becomes thick with hop aromas, from citrus and berry, chocolate and spice to tropical fruit, mint and pine – you see, there are actually over 34 varieties of British Hops to choose from.
The wide choice within the British Hop offering means that there’s a hop for everyone and we will be discussing three unusual varieties which we hope will excite your brewing appetite.
Dwarf hops growing at Stocks Farm. Image courtesy Stocks Farm.
Endeavour, a daughter of Cascade bred for growing on a low trellis system, has some blackcurrant notes, along with loganberry and citrus too. Endeavour is a gentler than Cascade and an excellent bittering hop which provides a well-rounded and fruity flavour to beer brewed with it.
Wye hops developed low trellis, or hedgerow hops, to grow about 6 feet high- much lower than the 19 feet or more traditional varieties will reach. The hops self-train while growing up a net structure and are harvested by an adapted blackcurrant picker.
From fruity to spicy, there’s no hop more unusual than Phoenix! It’s an excellent hop for dark beers, stouts and porters with a heady mixture of spice, molasses and chocolate aromas. Phoenix has a high oil content making it a great dual-purpose hop, though we have heard good things from using it as a late hop too. It was originally grown for and sold to just one brewer, but it is now widely available.
How about fruity and spicy? Well, Pilgrim fits the brief there. An excellent hop for bittering or late aroma, Pilgrim has an incredible fruity aroma with pears and berries but it is also spicy with some citrus overtones. It could be compared to Columbus with its bittering characteristics but due to its higher selinene levels, it also shares similarities with Challenger.
So, three completely different and unusual British Hops – there really is a great assortment of flavours and aromas to work with!
British Hops are super sustainable too. More than half of the British Hops do not require any irrigation and all British Hops have a lower chemical and pesticide use than any other hop growing countries.
British Hops also have their own grower-funded breeding program, which has been considering carefully all the aroma hop crosses made in the last 10 years. Assessing over 1,000 options, there are now over 60 new British Hop varieties coming through this program that have been thoroughly trialled during the last five years. There is no doubt that at least three will be market leading aroma hops of the future, so if there isn’t currently a British Hop you fancy trying in your next brew, there will be soon!
Hops have been growing at Stocks Farm for over 200 years, and the Capper family have been farming them for two generations since purchasing the farm in 1962. All of the hops grown at Stocks Farm share the wonderful “terroir” and a mild maritime climate with even rainfall throughout the year. This means the hops that grow there will give you a natural advantage when it comes to brewing beautiful beers. Once harvested, the hops are dried and packaged within days. This helps preserve the aromas and flavours.
Stocks Farm offers homebrew hops in packs of 100g (3.5 oz) and 500g (17.6 oz). You can find Endeavour, Phoenix and Pilgrim hops and seven other varieties at: https://stocksfarm.net/shop/