Britain's oldest brewer prepares for Faversham's 21st hop festival

Posted: 19 August 2011

Blog category: News

Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer, is preparing for a weekend of fine Kentish food, beer and entertainment as 20,000 people celebrate the 21st Faversham Hop Festival.

The free festival, which takes place on September 3 and 4 in Faversham, Kent, recalls the days when hop-pickers travelled from London by train to take their annual working holiday, bringing in the harvest and ending their stay with huge parties.

The carnival-like atmosphere offers something to suit all tastes. Music lovers will be spoilt for choice with three live music stages in the town centre, showcasing folk groups, rock bands and local musicians throughout the weekend.

Faversham pubs will also host live music and entertainment from Friday evening. The Albion Taverna, Railway Hotel and Market Inn boast outdoor stages, and other pubs hosting bands include the Chimney Boy and Sun Inn.

Ale fans can enjoy a real treat with a pint of Shepherd Neame’s Hop Festival Ale, brewed especially for the weekend and made using fresh, green hops. The beer will be available from Shepherd Neame pubs and bars outside the brewery in Court Street.

Visitors looking for a bite to eat can choose from traditional inns and superb restaurants. The Sun Inn, a charming ale house in the conservation area of Faversham, offers contemporary British dishes with local and seasonal influences, while the Anchor Inn in Abbey Street has a new seafood restaurant, the Crabshack and Grill, which serves fresh seafood from the Kent coast.

There’s also the Railway Hotel, a Victorian pub featured in the Good Beer Guide 2010, the ideal spot to enjoy a pint of ale. Visitors can dine in the pub’s Provenance restaurant, which serves high-quality, ethically sourced dishes.

Shepherd Neame’s multi award-winning Visitor Centre is opening its doors for brewery tours and special hoppers’ lunches over the weekend. Visitors will have the chance to see inside the heart of the working brewery and, of course, enjoy a tutored beer tasting with Shepherd Neame ales such as Spitfire and Bishops Finger.

Visitors from London on Sunday can choose to travel by Spitfire Steam Train from Victoria, retracing the route of hop-pickers decades earlier. Passengers can enjoy a long afternoon in Faversham soaking up the sights and sounds of the Hop Festival, before returning to London in the evening.

The train, made up of historic carriages from the 1950s and 1960s, features a real ale bar with casks of Shepherd Neame beer, as well as a buffet car serving soft drinks and snacks.
The Steam Train will also make a return trip to Dover, via Canterbury, on Sunday afternoon for people attending the festival.