Hop production has grown dramatically in 2016 — globally. We know demand’s still outstripping production for those specialty varieties (say citra or lemondrop), but farms around the world are growing acreage to meet increasingly picky demand. The British Hop Association dropped us a line the other day (we’re big fans of Ali Capper and Stocks Farm over there), announcing that British hop growers have increased acreage by 8 percent in 2016 compared to 2015.
Demand is certainly up for British hops, which boast a unique sales pitch. The British “terroir” is said to produce lower levels of myrcene in the hops which delivers a more delicate aroma intensity and a greater complexity to the hop “flavour.” This profile is perfect for session beers — a beer style that Britain is famous for and that American brewers are definitely gravitating toward.
How was the British harvest?
According to the British Hop Association, the season started later than usual thanks to a late spring but with the excellent weather conditions over the summer, the growers have caught up and the harvest started as normal the week after the bank holiday on August 29. The British Hop harvest is dramatic, noisy, frenetic and lasts for just a few weeks. Tall hops are harvested by cutting the whole bine and taking it to the hop picking machine where the hop is separated from the bine, laterals and leaf. Low trellis hops are harvested mechanically using a machine developed from the British blackcurrant harvester. The hop and leaf is taken to the hop picking machine where the hop is separated from the leaf. The most important aspect of hop farming is the drying. Hops contain over 80 percent moisture when picked and in order to make them store, this is reduced to about 10 percent. They are then baled into bales.
Fun facts about British hops
- There are over 28 commercially grown British Aroma Hop varieties in the UK.
- British Hops represent 1.5 percent of world hop production (to put that in context, British wheat represents about 1 percent of world wheat production).
- Over 50 percent of British hops are exported, mainly to the United States.
Now enjoy this fab photo blog of the 2016 harvest at Stocks Farm