Herefordshire hop grower Sarah Hawkins and Farm Manager Matt Bailey of The Farm in Bosbury, travelled to the Pure Craft Bar in Birmingham this week to pick up the award for the best British hop sample at the most prestigious hop awards ceremony for British hops in the UK.
The competition, organised by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD), brought together samples from every hop grower in the UK. The hop variety samples were judged in November by an expert group of leading brewers and the sample they selected as overall champion was Sarah’s sample of the new variety Harlequin.
This variety has recently been developed by Malvern company, Charles Faram, to enable UK growers to produce hops that will compete with the fruity, “new world” flavoured hops from the USA and New Zealand, and to reduce British craft brewers’ reliance on imported hops for beer styles such as New England IPAs and India Pale Ales.
Sarah said, “We are over the moon to have won this award, it is such a fantastic achievement for all of us at the farm and especially for Matt and his team who have put an incredible amount of work in to produce these beautiful hops.”
Matt commented “I am so proud to have won this award; we have made quite a few changes over the last few years to keep our hop quality up with the absolute best and this award is a real indication of the hard work and attention to detail that we have put in. To be honest, I am not surprised that the judges selected the Harlequin variety, when we are picking them during harvest the aromas coming from the kilns are just incredible; you can tell from a mile away that we are picking Harlequin!”
It was not only the award that was a welcome surprise; Flo Vialan, Head Brewer from Purity Brewing in Great Alne, Warwickshire had brewed a small batch of beer with the winning hops to celebrate the occasion and the beer was enjoyed by the brewers and growers attending the ceremony.
Flo said, “the flavours from this hop are something that we have never seen in British hops before. We will certainly use them again!”