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Posted: 21 September 2011
On Saturday I spent the evening at the Wye Hops Beer Festival, this is a new event run by Wye Heritage to commemorate hop development at Wye College. I was there to give a talk and tutored tasting as part of the day, which is always a great opportunity to discuss beers and peoples likes and dislikes as well as giving a taster of future developments. The was a very relaxed event with the attendees ranging from beer aficionados, local residents, local brewers to people related to Wye college past and present.
Wye College was for many years the UK base for hop research and a large proportion of the hops that we use today were developed by them. All of the beers featured at the beer festival were there as examples of beers using Wye developed hops. This was therefore a unique collection of beers, many of which I had not tried before. I am led to believe that this beer festival will be repeated at least annually and would thoroughly recommend it; I will certainly be there again.
Since all the beers featured had Wye hops I thought that a bit more detail about the hops may be of interest, three of the hops developed at Wye and used by Shepherd Neame are:
First Gold, this was the original dwarf hop variety, making picking far easier, we use this in many of our beers
Admiral, a general high alpha bittering hop developed as an alternative to Target (another of the Wye varieties that is still very popular as a bittering component). We use Admiral in Kent Best which was available at the festival.
Challenger, a hop developed with resistance to powdery mildew which is widely used in ales and lagers including Kingfisher, Sunlik and our football special 442.
Many more hops developed at Wye are still in use throughout the world of brewing including Phoenix, Northdown, Bramling Cross, Northern Brewer, Boadicea, Sovereign and Brewer’s Gold.
The hop research still continues in the heart of the Kent hop growing region at China Farm and we are lucky enough to hold the National Hop Collection at Queens Court Farm. So it is safe to say that new varieties of hops will continue to be developed to meet the needs of present and future brewers and I cannot wait to see what new aromas are available.
Stewart Tricker - Senior Brewer