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2018 Green Beerfest at Daniel Hall

Just to remind you…………….

Come along and celebrate our 2018 hop season at Daniel Hall Scout Hut on Friday 26th October, starting at 7.00pm. An evening to meet other Hoppers and taste the beers made with our Prima Donna green hop. I hear they are very good – again!

As we had two harvests, there will be two casks of beer this year, each produced by a different craft brewer. Joe Wood has added our hops to Frensham Brewery’s “Soul” and John Mintram to his “Horsell Gold”. Look up their websites for a description of the beers: http://www.frenshambrewery.co.uk and http://www.thurstonsbrewery.co.uk/ Two casks is a lot of beer, so bring along some plastic screw top containers so you can enjoy the beer at home. It’s okay to bring a guest, especially if they’re interested in joining FH, but in fairness we should limit that to one guest per member, please.

During the evening Joe will talk to us about Frensham Brewery: how a small craft micro-brewery came to be set up on Pierrepont Farm and how he envisages the way forward for the enterprise. 

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Is this a first? Prima Donna dried hops used by craft micro brewery.

A local brewery to the south of Farnham has used last years dried hops to produce a fabulous ale!

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Mark and Paul set up their micro brewery at the Duke of Cambridge in Tilford village and went into production this February.  Tilford Brewery used 2 kilos of Prima Donna to produce this wonderful hoppy beer.  The beer has been distributed in firkins around the Red Mist group of pubs local to the Surrey Hampshire borders.

Our FH secretary, Chris hunt, learnt about this new brewery through his CAMRA connections and suggested we offered them some dried hops as they were keen to be involved in a community project. It all worked out very well, the hops proved of good quality and the brew was designed to boost the hoppy taste. This is probably the first community-grown beer made using local dried hops: an exciting experiment and a big extension of the range of social hops!

A party of Farnham Hoppers were invited to taste the beer on 11th October at the brewery. Mark and Paul were our generous hosts plying us with pints of Prima Donna, they talked us through the ideas behind the recipe and then sat us down for a delicious feast of snacks. I’m afraid that those of you who didn’t come missed a real treat!

Tilford Brewery Founders: Mark Collins (left) and Paul Griffiths
Tilford Brewery Founders: Mark Collins (left) and Paul Griffiths

There is a full press post on our facebook group site, see side bar for link.

 

2017 brew creates outstanding beer

A cracking 2017 brew! Great beer from our green hops this year.

 

Despite being a difficult year growing our Prima Donna and a fall in yields due to ravages of DM we succeeded in producing 15 kilos of “wet” hops. A simplified collective harvest worked well and the green hops arrived in good condition at Little Beer Corp, Jim’s micro-brewery in Guildford.

This is Jim’s account of his first taste of the beer, a few days after the brewing on the 11th September: “The brew went very well indeed and the beer smelt wonderful with all the fresh hops in. We have used them with Little Tenderness, our 4.5 Amber. Recipe wise, we used Maris Otter, Crystal 240 and Munich Malts to create a rich full flavour caramel backbone to the beer, then we used Centennial and Cascade for the bittering hops whilst we used the Green Prima Donna hops you’ve supplied as an aroma hop at the end. We let the beer sit on the green hops, for about half an hour, to get the best out of them.”

The beer is now bottled and casked. The first public tasting was available at the Farnham Food and Drink Festival in Castle St on 30th September. The 35 pint cask was sold out in under the hour, arriving midday I missed out completely!

Now for the downside! Growing hops is not all plain sailing!

The following pics show a tale of hope, promise and collapse: the villain in the piece is the Darth Vader of the hop grower: Downey Mildew. This little fungal pathogen is, like so many of nature’s “bad guys”, not so dumb as to completely kill off its host, but it certainly can finish off your crop. The pics tell the tale.

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What can we do? Growing hops organically in the UK has become a lot more challenging now that EU has proscribed Bordeaux Mixture.

Some German chemists are developing a modified from of BM with reduced copper content and Monsanto have their Bt technology, which is a genetically engineered “organic product” (latest research suggests that Bt toxins have unwanted side effects). There are other ways to mitigate the impact of Downey Mildew which our garden growing system allows us to trial experimentally. These options we’ll be exploring further in our Hop Calendar notes on this website.

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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