Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A visit to a hop garden

On Thursday the lovely Lisa and I went on a Brewery History Society trip to the National Scientific Hop Collection and China Farm near Canterbury where it's hosted. Farm owner Tony Redsell welcomed us and Peter Darby of Wye Hops Ltd was there to guide us round, explain the hop breeding programme and show us the historic hop collection.

Tony Redsell talking to Peter Darby

These are one of the Goldings varieties

Hops about to be stripped from the bines

The cluster buster


Leaves are lifted up but cones roll back

Kiln being filled

Dried hops going to be packaged

Up to the top of the press

About to be pressed

Being pressed into 50-60kg bales
The building where the hops were processed was the equivalent of eight traditional oast houses and could be run by only two people. From the 1950s the hop industry became increasingly mechanised, which lead to the ending of production of many old varieties. Only Goldings, Fuggles and Whitbread's Golding Variety cones rolled well enough for mechanical separation from leaves.

I'll be back to burble about the breeding later.


  1. lovely green colours. What are this years yields like?

  2. I haven't heard a report yet, some hops were looking great but there may well be a Bramling Cross shortage.

  3. Always wondered how the professionals did it. How long does it take to dry the hops in that sort of quantity?

  4. They were dried overnight. Fans were going throughout the day to stop the hops 'sweating' but I think the actual drying was done in five hours.