TV's Giles Coren visits brewery for new BBC series

Posted: 16 April 2012

Blog category: News

Shepherd Neame’s Faversham Brewery will feature on BBC 2 as part of a new series looking at the best regional ingredients in the UK.

Presented by restaurant critic Giles Coren, this week’s episode of Our Food – the third in the series – focuses on Kent. It will be broadcast at 8pm on Wednesday 18 April.

The brewery was asked to help tell the story of Kent’s internationally renowned hops. However, the producers of the show also issued the brewers with an usual challenge: to brew a beer without using any hops.

Senior brewer, Stewart Main explains: “Some people are surprised to learn hops aren’t indigenous to the UK. They were originally imported, before the hop gardens of today were cultivated. Beer – or to be precise – ale was being brewed before those imports began, with medieval ale wives using all manner of plants to add the bitterness, aroma and the antibiotic properties which hops now provide. Giles wanted to taste this beer and compare it to our Kentish ales, so we set about brewing with heather, juniper berries, rosemary and malted wheat. These were combined with our traditional ingredients: mineral water from our artesian well, malted barley and yeast.”

He continues: “We braced ourselves before trying the ale as it was left open to the elements throughout the brewing process so it could benefit from the natural yeasts in the air. The strength and taste were left to the gods, albeit with a final traditional touch: adding a drop of honey before drinking. The resultant brew was…well, you’ll have to watch on Wednesday to find out.”

The brew was witnessed by the South East London branch of CAMRA who were visiting the brewery on the day and were lucky enough to try the ale.

Stewart concluded “It was a pleasure to brew with Giles. He was fascinated by how few ingredients are combined to produce such a wide variety of beers. Although it was great to brew a medieval-style of ale, we both agreed we’ll be sticking to a pint of Master Brew in the future!”

Other ingredients featured in the Kent episode included cherries, cobnuts, Romney Marsh lamb, native oysters and lavender.