Shepherd Neame is to host the first UK Hop Symposium, a full day in and around Faversham, Kent, in which leading industry figures will discuss the past, present and future of one of beer’s vital ingredients.
Supported by the British Guild of Beer Writers, the British Hop Association and TG Redsell Ltd, the inaugural UK Hop Symposium, on Thursday October 3, will include a hop garden walk, talks from expert guests, displays and Shepherd Neame’s traditional hop blessing ceremony.
The Goldings Lecture will be delivered by East Kent hop farmer Tony Redsell OBE, who last December retired as chairman of the British Hop Association (formerly the National Hop Association) after nearly 40 years at the helm. Tony, who grows many of the hops used in Shepherd Neame’s Kentish ales, will look back on his partnership with Dr Peter Darby to maintain hop development and research through the development of industry-funded Wye Hops.
Ali Capper, from the British Hop Association, will discuss the challenges and opportunities currently facing the hop industry while David Wilson from the British Beer and Pub Association will talk about work going on to promote the entire beer category through the new Let There Be Beer campaign.
Eddie Gadd, from the Ramsgate Brewery, Kent, will talk about the Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight (September 27 to October 11) in which 20 Kent brewers each brew ales using fresh, undried hops picked within 12 hours of brewing.
The event will begin with the brewery’s traditional annual Hop Blessing ceremony at Ospringe Church. Following the Hop Blessing, delegates can join leading hop researcher Dr Peter Darby, from Wye Hops, for a talk and walk around the National Hop Collection at Queen Court Farm, Ospringe, on an acre of land put aside by Shepherd Neame.
The collection is dedicated to the preservation of the UK’s hop-growing heritage and contains hundreds of rare varieties up to a century old. Guests can also inspect hop samples and hop-related displays at the brewery and enjoy lunch in The Old Brewery Store.
Hops have been grown in Kent since the 16th Century and in 1878 hop-growing in the county reached its peak, with 77,000 acres of hops under cultivation. While the acreage of hop fields has declined in the past 50 years, the UK can boast 20 commercially-available varieties with more in the pipeline, offering brewers the chance to develop niche beers with distinct flavours.
Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “We have built on our traditional Hop Blessing to host the inaugural UK Hop Symposium which is an opportunity for the beer world to come together to hear about the past, present and future of this vital part of the UK beer industry.”
Those interested in attending are asked to contact Alison Shelley at Shepherd Neame by emailing ashelley@[remove]shepherd-neame.co.uk.