Yorkshire Hops for Yorkshire People
In a quiet village called Ellerker in East Yorkshire, a small holding of 2.5 acres is growing an uprising. In-between the grassy lanes and farm buildings are sixteen rows of timber poles and wire trellising with green shooting hop plants climbing slowing upwards.
It may not be the same degrees latitude as Washington State’s famous hop growing region Yakima Valley but a farmer and head waiter have a mutual vision – Yorkshire Hops. Britain’s hop gardens have diminished dramatically, presently adding up to roughly less than three per cent of the World’s hop acreage.
Whilst the gardens have been diminishing Chris Bradley and Matt Hall's family friendship has been growing. Not that there is any hop versus humanity correlation (I'd like to see that mapped out); just awe at the spirit of human nature to grow hops for beer for Yorkshire people. An arable farm is a hard-working life and diversity is king. The first year of harvest this year will see the pair focus on selling green hops direct.
Sponsorship from local breweries has enabled the pair to concentrate on growing the green stuff. Saltaire, Brass Castle, Wold’s Top and Bridestones breweries have all given their support. We may even have a Sheffield Tap green hop beer festival to look forward to at harvesting time in September.
It hasn’t been a simple journey and there’s plenty of hard work still to come down the farm road. With months of research under taken – visiting Ali Capper in Worcestershire, at her well respected Stocks hop farm, to travelling 850 miles across numerous counties, the English Chanel and onto Bavaria – to find a Wolf. In this case, a heavy duty piece of hop grading machinery, not the snarling toothy variety.
It’s taken four people three weeks to plant the First Gold and Sovereign variety hedgerow hops. Their timing could be just right as British brewers are exploring influences closer to home (rather than the American pale ale rage); British hops are undergoing a new found love in the brewer’s kettle.
The First Gold variety hop has wonderful tangerine, orangey citrus and spicy aromas with flavours of marmalade and floral sweetness. Sovereign hops have aromas of floral, grassy and herbal notes giving a green tea bittering characteristic to the brew.
With twenty British hop varieties to choose from Yorkshire Hops cherry-picked two to start in the hope to add further varietals like Boadicea and Pioneer. Once the first successful harvest is under their belt, expansion will certainly follow; to give your support head to @YorkshireHops and show some Yorkshire love.