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Upcoming 2016 Green Beerfest: 7.00pm Friday, 11th November, at Daniel Hall

Time to sample the special editions created using our Prima Donna green hops.

As we approach November the thoughts of Farnham Hoppers turn to the Green Beerfest and a proper celebration of our year long tender cultivation of Prima Donna. This year the plants have done well and their bounty has allowed us to widen the range of local craft beers enhanced with green hops grown in Farnham. At this Green Beerfest  we have two casks of “free”beer: a green hopped Horsell Gold from John Mintram of Thurstons alongside Jim Taylor’s green hopped Little and Often.

Adding green hops as an aromatic makes a very special addition to the drinking experience of beers; it is also uniquely seasonal and local. So green beers quickly set themselves apart as special editions of regular beers adding an extra luxury to an old friend.It is a cause of celebration that Farnham Hoppers have successfully grown green hops for the past few years and provided a resource rich in social value to local breweries.

Our guest speaker is Chris Giles of Surebrew, Godalming, who has kindly agreed to give a short talk on “Yeasts for Beer-Making”. Chris is an experienced chemist and supports many local breweries with their yeast culture needs.

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Please bring a suitable container for any extra beer as there are about 140 pints to dispose of and, despite the best efforts of Farnham Hoppers, there may be some left over!

Jim is offering pre-ordered boxes of our special edition Little and Often at £49 on a box of 24 bottles (330ml). That’s a 20% discount on the normal price and makes an excellent Xmas gift with a good story to match!

Contact Jim to place your order at www.littlebeer.co.uk 

Directions to  Daniel Hall Scout Hut, Long Garden Walk, Farnham GU9 7HX at http://www.3rdfarnham.org.uk/index.php  Grateful thanks to 3rd Farnham Scout Group who kindly allow us to hold our event at Daniel Hall. 

7.00pm start on Friday, 11th November: see you there!

 

2016 Harvest Review

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This is our third year and 2016 has produced a bumper harvest with 50 kilos of green hops! Well done to all the members who picked away, in some cases for quite a while, on Harvest Sunday last month. Thanks, too, to all those Farnham Hoppers who acted as collection points for our harvest clusters. The system works well now, though we do need more cars to ferry the mass of hops to the breweries.

Undoubtedly hop-picking works best as a social event: if picking in situ, a four person team helps spread the load where the hops are abundant. As for harvest timing; well, we did better this year, though the debate is on as to splitting it into early and late crops. Some plants missed out on the timing altogether, notably the two PDs in The Maltings Yard, which produced prolifically but late by several weeks!

All in all, about 30% of the membership succeeded in returning a yield in our collective harvest. It would be interesting to know how many hop plants were in fact productive, but for one reason or another weren’t harvested. Also, knowing how many plants have failed over the past three years, for whatever reason, would help build the picture of our actual productive stock. Alas, this year’s new plants, on the whole, suffered heavy losses: our grower has offered replacements this coming spring.

On the processing and brewing side we stepped into new territory this year. Two craft micr0-breweries took on our green hops and a hop drying experiment was undertaken for the first time. In addition to Jim Taylor at Little Beer Corp, Guildford, we had another local brewery at Horsell – Thurstons Brewery – run by John Mintram using our green hops for the first time. We split the 50 kilo harvest into 20 kilos for the brewers and 30 kilos for drying.

The prospect of drying a considerable amount of green hops had been gnawing at my mind for a while, so with Harvest Sunday on the horizon I decided to take the plunge and build. To cut a long story short, here it is – pictures tell a thousand words:

And it worked! The 30 kilos dried down to 8 kilos; it took two sessions using a hair-dryer as heat source and a box fan to pull the moist air out through a seven tray stack. A compost heap thermometer acted as my temperature control; I managed a reasonable 120 – 140F which is fine for small scale hop drying. Getting the warm humid air extracted from the garage is a refinement yet to be made!

But what do you do with dried hops? Especially if slightly under-dried as I soon learnt was the case from fellow Hoppers. Thanks guys! You vacuum pack and deep freeze. More pictures to tell the story:

Plan is for Hoppers who do home brewing to trial the dried hops using the small 250 gm packs and later in spring 2017 to interest a local craft brewery to use the larger 500 gm packs for our first brew at scale using DP as a bittering hop. Meanwhile hops are resting in the deep freeze.

Monthly Hoppers Social – September 14th

Looking forwards to tonights Farnham Hoppers social down The Jolly Sailor in West Street. Our first opportunity to compare harvesting notes and get feedback on the grand total harvested , the distribution to the Brewers and hop drying pilot.

Links to our Facebook group and to Twitter @farnhamhoppers are now also in the right hand column, simply scroll down to “Keep in Touch” or click on the tag below for the Fb group site 

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Poperinge Photo Album

A selection of the photos from our trip last month to the Belgian Hop Museum at Poperinge are available to see here: https://goo.gl/photos/AgGSWAsWJmA6ndGEA

Four Farnham Hoppers set out on the morning 17th June to visit the new Hop Museum at Poperinge in the Westhoek (Maritime Flanders) region of Belgium. The first photos show the four: Mark Walsingham, who organised the tour, Alan Newell, Joe Debono and Rob Simpson at various moments along the journey.

kaart west-vl-grIt was a smooth trip on the Eurostar to Brussels and an easy transfer to the Pullman Hotel at the Zuidstation. Then off to the Grote Markt, the bright lights and expensive food, before sleep and an early start for Poperinge next morning.

But it’s a long way to Poperinge – by train that is! The next photos show us arriving under sullen skies, but our mood lifts as soon as we get to the Hop Museum at Gasthuisstraat 71. The Museum is a new project created out of the old municipal hop sulphur oast building. Mark had arranged a guided tour, so on arrival we were meet by Bertin Deneire who then gave us a fascinating two hours full of looking, talking and finally drinking.

The photos really only show a snapshot of the riches of the museum which was set out to a very high standard and clearly shows well-honed curatorial skills. The aim of the museum is to pass on an engaging interest in the beer culture of Belgium and especially with the hopland heritage of the Westhoek region. Bertin was an excellent guide and kept our attention throughout.

You can find out more about the Poperinge hop museum by visiting their website at www.hopmuseum.be  and catch the social media chat at www.facebook.com/hopmusem

For Poperinge itself visit the local tourist agencies at www.toerismepoperinge.be and www.toerismewesthoek.be  There are 16 grower-brewers out in the local hoplands including a successful organic grower-brewer – www.plukker.be and an ancient monastic brewery at www.sintsixtus.be These can all be visited on a tasting tour thanks to a local minibus company. Beer cuisine is taking off in a serious way in Belgium and one of the best is Restaurant ‘t Hommelhof at nearby Watou where Stefaan Couttenye has pioneered the revival in “Cooking with Beer”- the title of his book on the subject.

The final photos in the album show us on Sunday morning on a sunny stroll through quaint parts of Brussel enjoying the flea market at Vossen Plein and enjoying more and more Belgian beer!

We’d like to see this trip as exploratory and with the contacts we now have to scope out a trip next year of slightly more ambitious proportions opening the tour to other groups than just Farnham Hoppers and extending the range of sites/places to visit while easing the travel arrangements. Watch this space!

As for our other purpose: to garner inspiration for a future Farnham Hop museum to celebrate Farnham’s 100 year supremacy as “Hop Capital of Britain”, we have now made friends in Belgium’s hop capital (Poperinge) and have a very clear idea of the museum standard that has been set there. We’ll be writing to Sofie Adriaen, Director of Poperinge Hop Museum, about our dream.

Darth Vader strikes!

Beware of Downy Mildew, the “Darth Vader” of the hop growing world.

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This is a typical Downy Mildew aerial spike (Photo by David H. Gent, 2006.) You can spot them early in the season as the plant comes into growth. They should be removed and destroyed as soon as possible. If you feel the plant is under existential threat, then you may need a fungicide. Organic controls are available, but are more preventative, one technique is to cut back the crown during dormancy to remove the overwintering sites of the pathogen.

Damp conditions do help spread the fungus, so if your plant is well-established (3 years old) you could remove all the growth appearing at ground level, apart from what you’ve trained up the twine. As cones do not set on the first 3 -4 feet of the plant, you could also strip off leaves from the bines to this height.

If allowed, Downy Mildew can go on to brown the cones and make them useless. I suspect that this may have played a part in last year’s poor yield.

A trawl through the web and I’ve come up with these helpful sites:

http://growmorehops.com/hopsblog//6/15/2015/beware-of-downy-mildew-the-darth-vader-of-the-hop-growing-world

There is also a link from the Growmorehops website  to a good pdf on the disease and its management. Explains the life cycle of the pathogen which helps.

http://www.plantpath.wisc.edu/wivegdis/pdf/2015/Hop%20DM%20A4053-01.pdf

Further advice here:

http://pnwhandbooks.org/plantdisease/hop-humulus-lupulus-downy-mildew

For a full library of images to help identification, try Google images, using Hop vine disease Downy Mildew.

Please post your feedback on our facebook page.

 

 

 

Poperinge Hop Museum visit: 17th – 19th June

Some Farnham Hoppers have just returned from a weekend  visit to the world’s finest hop museum at Poperinge, in the Westhoek hoplands, near Ypres, Belgium.

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Harvesting the much prized and valuable hop shoots, early spring.

This is a brief preview of a truly fantastic museum experience; guided by the courteous Bertin we were shown all manner of extraordinary tools of the hop growers craft, all set out in an informative and visually exciting way.

The museum is housed in the nineteenth century warehouse where all the local hops were brought, assessed, sulphur dried and packed for the market. Today unlike, the hops districts of Hampshire and West Surrey, quite a few hop growers and associated craft breweries flourish in the Poperinge district.  

After two hours we retired to the adjacent tavern for a welcome taste of local brews. Thank you, Bertin.

A full account of the trip, of our beer discoveries and the prospects for a more extended future visit including craft breweries and hop growers in the district, will follow once we’ve arranged a selected photo album.

Rob.

 

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