Saturday 27 April 2013

The return of the Farnham whitebine

For over a century considered the most prized hop in Britain, the Farnham whitebine suffered the ignominy of being grubbed up from the last farms growing it and replaced with Fuggles in 1929. The recently introduce disease downy mildew had proved too much for it.

But this was not extinction, merely exile. Cuttings had long before been taken to Kent and Worcestershire, where they were known as Canterbury whitebines and Mathons. In these much larger hop growing areas it continued to be grown as part of the Goldings group, and when Wye College selected four clones from this group to provide a range of Goldings plants with different maturity dates the Mathon was one of them.

 It continues to be grown today, which is handy, as it means it means rhizomes can be easily obtained. The one I planted out the front has now sprouted, and though may not be in Farnham, it's in Surrey, so I think it can revert to being a Farnham whitebine. Just in time for Farnham beerex too. Oh how delighted my friends will be now I've got something else to bore them with about Farnham hops.

Could this be even more exciting than a hop pocket with a Farnham Bell?

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