High quality hops
Early records suggest that a ‘hoppeyarde’ was operating near Bromyard in 1577. Well over 400 years later, we are still using the same terminology, all specific to the West Midlands.
Hop Gardens exist all around the world, but here, we are surrounded by Hop Yards. Hops are dried in Oast Houses; we, however, dry them in Kilns. The dialect suggests that hop production began in Herefordshire independently from other areas, and it is little surprise given the suitability of the climate and the soil to its successful growth.
More styles for more flavours
We grow a range of varieties, some traditional; Goldings for example dates back to the 1790’s, through to our latest projects; Jester, Olicana & Harlequin with their citrus flavours. We have many trial plots on the farms, testing and developing new and exciting future varieties as part of the Charles Faram breeding programme.
Hop flowers are known as cones and their flavouring and preservative properties differ with each variety. They also differ according to where they are grown, much like grapes, so the French term ‘terroir’ is also highly relevant for hops.
Their soft resin cores are a smorgasbord of complex acids that not only preserve and flavour alcoholic drinks, but have a range of medicinal qualities, mentioned not only in folklore, but in modern day scientific study. Their potential has yet to be fully realised.
Management of hop farming
Rising to the challenge
Hops are a rewarding but very challenging crop to grow. An old Kentish rhyme said of them:
‘First the flea, then the fly / Then the mould, then they die.’
They require a great deal of sympathetic management, and then during a frenetic 5 week period around September, they have to be harvested and processed as quickly as possible in what becomes a factory environment, whilst still giving them the delicate handling that they require. No other crop in British farming can be as interesting as this one.