Hops grown in gardens and allotments across Thanet are now being brewed into Green Hop beer.
Members of Hop Along Thanet, ranging from the Garden Gate Project to individuals growing hops in their gardens, collected 29kg of Green Hops and delivered them to NorthDown Brewery yesterday (September 13).
Hop Along Thanet is the newest of the patchwork hop farms in East Kent and was formed in February 2021.
It now has more than 60 members who have planted 130 hop bines in their gardens and allotments across Thanet.
Member Denise Hill said: “Everyone pays a membership fee, which includes one hop – additional ones can be purchased. They are planted in February or March – it’s a perennial – and harvested in September.
“Founding member Chris Morrissey grows his hops on Culmers allotments in Broadstairs, mine are in my garden. We grow in Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and the villages including in Spencer Square, Ramsgate, the Sunken Garden in Westbrook and the Garden Gate Project.
“We approached local brewery NorthDown Brewery to help out which they were more than pleased to do as using locally grown hops is incredibly important to them and ours are all from Thanet.”
The association members will return to the brewery at Westwood Industrial estate to taste the Green Hop beer at a celebration event on October 8. It will then be made available to Thanet pubs.
Katie Spanjar, from the brewery, said: “It was great! The growers exceeded their yield and they produced over 15kg of the hop Prima Donna for the Hop Along Thanet Green Ale which started its brew yesterday afternoon.
“Community garden The Garden Gate Project also produced hops for the brew and it felt like a proper community effort.
“We are having a Green Hop celebration on October 8 from 2pm-6pm at the brewery. All are invited to enjoy this unique and special beer release, both in cask and keg.
“Tunes will be by local legend DJ Crippsy and there will be Vietnamese street food from @thaothao.kitchen, which is based in the Old Kent Market.”
Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight
The Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight from September 23 to October 9 is your chance to taste newly released beers made from just-harvested Kentish hops produced by over 30 of county’s finest brewers, including Thanet’s NorthDown Brewery, The Four Candles micropub and brewery – which celebrated its 10th anniversary last month – Gadds and Xylo.
Gadds is hosting a Green Hop Day this Sunday (September 18) from noon to 5pm with music from Gaddzukes between 2pm-4pm, food from Urban Grillaz and a ceremonial tapping of the cask at 12.30pm. Gadds brewery and tap room is based at Pyson’s Industrial estate, 4 Hornet Close.
The fortnight is a celebration of green hop beer which is brewed from hops before they are dried. The hops have to be picked and brewed within 12 hours and produce beers with a fresh taste because the hops used contain many of the oils that are normally lost when they are dried.
Hops are the seasoning in beer, the spice that adds the aroma, flavour and bitterness, creating a balance to the sweet, biscuity malt.
They were first used in brewing in the 1500s, replacing gruit, a mixture of local herbs which had previously been used as a bittering agent.
In addition to adding bitterness, a spicy, tangy flavour and heady floral aroma, hops are a natural preservative. Beer was being brewed at home in small batches and went off quickly. The addition of hops allowed it to last. It enabled brewers to make bigger batches of beer and move brewing out of the domestic kitchen, prompting the start of the commercial brewing industry.