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Thread: In the Hop Garden

  1. #151
    Pub researcher (unpaid) rpadam's Avatar
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    Default Perseverance!

    Some oasthouses are frustrating; you know there is something interesting there to take a picture of, but there is often a hedge or fence in the way (understandably, perhaps, if you have paid a zillion pounds for a fancy oast conversion), so where's the angle that might still be there somewhere?
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    However, if you walk a few steps up an otherwise annoying dead-end footpath, you get this view of the south end (one of two residences now sharing this fine old building)…
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  2. #152
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    Default Starting to grow

    The hop bines are continuing to grow, but the ground is so parched around here it looks slow going at the moment...
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    although these are starting to climb the strings clockwise but have not been manually trained yet...
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    but those further away from the footpath look much more vigorous at this stage, so must be a different variety?
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  3. #153
    This Space For Hire Wittenden's Avatar
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    Default

    An account of an interview with Peter Darby, the godfather of English hops, from Stan Hieronymous.
    Hop Queries

    February 2019
    • The future of hops
    • Crafty and classic breeding
    • The state of the market

    Welcome to Vol. 3, No. 9. Now I know. After last month’s Queries began with a copy of a what I called a radar chart of Hallertau Mittelfrüh I received an email from Jeff Daily at the BarthHaas Group explaining that such charts are more appropriately referred to as Rose or Nightingale charts. Florence Nightingale created the graphic displays following the Crimean War. Here’s a link to the whole story. Pretty cool, don’t you think?

    The future of hops
    Peter Darby, who has been breeding hops in England for almost 40 years, once said this: “English flavor is like a chamber orchestra, the hops giving simultaneously the high notes and the bass notes. In comparison, a Czech beer is more like a full orchestra with much more breadth to the sound, and an American hop gives more of a dance band with more emphasis on volume and brass. The recent New Zealand hops (e.g. Nelson Sauvin) are like adding a voice to the instrumental music.”

    That should get your attention. Darby took over the breeding program at Wye College in 1981. Wye is where E.S. Salmon began cross breeding hop varieties more than 100 years ago, the result changing hops in ways he may never have imagined. There’s more of that history in For The Love of Hops, and a mini-version in a story posted last week at Good Beer Hunting.

    In 2007 Britain’s government yanked funding for the program at Wye, which since 1948 had been an equal partnership between industry and the government. “We would have lost 100 years of experience,” said hop farmer Tony Redsell, who spearheaded the establishment of Wye Hops Limited, with Darby at the helm. Darby retires from what he calls “the day job” in March. He will still do some consulting.

    He delivered the keynote address at the American Society of Brewing Chemists convention last summer, so it seemed appropriate to ask him via email what seems different about the way brewers, and brewing scientists, view hops now as opposed to 20 years ago. He wrote back:

    “There has never been more interest in hops during my career than there is now. The obvious difference between the view of hops now and 20 years ago is that flavour is now all important and impact flavour is more important than traditional aromas. As this is a very subjective area, it means that everyone in the field can have an opinion and no-one is right or wrong.

    “There is no unifying definable scientific goal at present and so breeding and use of hops is being undertaken by almost anyone; growers, merchants, hobbyists, scientists etc. Previously, it was left to those with appropriate scientific credentials or brewing experience. But now we do not have sufficient science to explain flavour and so hops have passed back into the art of brewing rather than the science.

    “Clearly, increased alpha is no longer the main goal and, with dry hopping in quantity, some of the minor bittering compounds such as humulinones are now getting attention. It seems to me that there is a lot of brewing science and breeding science going on but it is in the background whilst the attention is taken by the taste panels and social media posts.

    “Although pest and disease resistance and yield increase remain important goals, there are still sufficient pesticides that the existing threats are all under control. Perhaps climate change will provide the catalyst for the next change in direction for the hop industry.”

    Darby has been generous about keeping me on the right track since I first began researching For The Love of Hops. We’ve exchanged emails about the heritage of multiple varieties, because sometimes there is conflicting information. I asked, he answered:

    “I do not want to single out particular websites. I will just give a couple examples in general. Most of the inaccuracy that I come across is in pedigree information. The first example is the pedigree of Admiral. It is actually the result of a cross between two numbered selections. So, the BHA quote it correctly as being of Northdown and Challenger breeding lines. In fact, Challenger is its maternal grandmother and Northdown is its paternal great grand-aunt. Its pedigree is mentioned in at least three other websites other than the British Hops (BHA) website. These others incorrectly state that it is a cross between Northdown and Challenger, or that it is a seedling of Northdown. This type of simplification to give inaccurate information is typical.

    “The second example involves the pedigree of the new dwarf varieties in the Czech Republic. These have arisen from pollen provided to the Hop Research Institute from the collection here at Wye Hops as part of a European project. I know the pedigree but (those at) the Czech Institute do not. So, the several websites which mention these varieties give various incorrect pointers mentioning other dwarf varieties including First Gold, Sovereign or Minstrel as the origin. One even says that they are the result of a cross between First Gold and Sovereign which, as two female varieties, is completely wrong. In fact, there is no First Gold in their pedigree at all and it is unlikely that any of the other named varieties are in their direct pedigree.”

    There is never going to be a hop breeding question on Jeopardy. (The answer is Mistral. Your question would be, “What is the daughter of a cross between Cascade and a brother of Barbe Rouge.”) But getting these things right still matters. The Good Beer Hunting story mentioned earlier is about how sequencing the genome of hops, barley and yeast may change those ingredients. New technology is arming breeders with important knowledge, but it doesn’t make basic (and correct) information less valuable.

    I hope your eyes did not glaze over during all of this. Just in case, I’ll repeat an important insight from Darby: “hops have passed back into the art of brewing rather than the science.” It happens I’ll be speaking about “The Science And Art Of Blending Hops” at Homebrew Con in June.
    "At that moment I would have given a kingdom, not for champagne or hock and soda, or hot coffee but for a glass of beer" Marquess Curzon of Kedlestone, Viceroy of India.

  4. #154
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    Default Blooming woodlands!

    Drifting off-topic slightly, but our 'one-a-day walks' are taking us through or near various remnant woodlands between the fields, orchards, vineyards and (occasional) hop gardens, and the bluebells are now in full bloom. However, these are always difficult to photograph since there is something about the shade which seems to defeat an any digital camera when trying to capture the striking natural colour...
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    The wild garlic is also starting to show itself, although it's still a little early to get a full display of the delicate white flowers.
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  5. #155
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    Default More changing perspectives...

    This sequence shows how the views of an oast in the landscape can change radically, (1) firstly viewed from over half-a-mile away across a valley, (2) then increasingly close, (3) passing the front (on the farm lane), (4) round the side (on the main road) and then (5) when starting to move away again.
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  6. #156
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    Default A real working hop picking machine shed

    Unlike the building in Post #142, this unprepossessing structure is still a fully operational hop picking machine shed (although you would never know, except for a hectic couple of weeks in early autumn).
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    From this angle, you can see the covered conveyor that will take the freshly picked cones directly into the adjacent oast - low tech, but a very efficient arrangement.
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    At the other end of the shed, you can see the stockpile of waste bines and twine from last year's harvest, waiting to be used as a mulch elsewhere on the farm.
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  7. #157
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    Default The real deal!

    Would you give this place a second thought if you drove / cycled / walked past?
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    Probably not, although you might stop to puzzle at the conveyor linking it with the next-door shed?
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    However, if viewed from further away on the far side, other clues (or, failing that, yesterday's post) might lead you towards the answer...
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    Yes, a real working oast, albeit as far away from the stereotype as one could think of, but a real survivor of a small but very important industry to us all...
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    … with perhaps the most flattering view from across the neighbouring farm's pond!

  8. #158
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    Default An important reminder

    Located at the other end of the farm from yesterday's modern working 'kiln shed', this grand structure is a now rare unconverted oast.
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    However, although you can see three cowls, the story here is a bit more complicated... because there are three square kilns at the back, but the one at the right-hand end has been truncated and is effectively invisible now. The round kiln with the conical black roof and slightly different stowage at the other end must have been a later extension. Doubtless it will be converted one day, but in the meantime it remains an authentic reminder of how things looked decades ago.

  9. #159
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    Default Cowls

    We had this oast before (see right-hand picture on post #129), but the kilns pay closer inspection.
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    Oast cowls is another subject in its own right, and in Kent the tradition is to have a black horse (the inverse of the 'Invicta' white horse symbol) on the vane, although you can get dogs, horses, wicket gates and all sorts of other things. However, here you can see the dates of the two roundels quoted which adds some interest for the passing walker.
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    And here it is again, late on a fine spring evening, with a curious shadow formed by two people standing close together (albeit in strict compliance with the social distancing rules as they come from the same household!).

  10. #160
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    Default

    Coloured cowls

    Traditionally, Kentish Oast cowls were painted white, these https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1373861

    at Liitle Chart, bear the racing colours of Sir Chester Beatty,the businessman and philanthropist, a former owner.
    "At that moment I would have given a kingdom, not for champagne or hock and soda, or hot coffee but for a glass of beer" Marquess Curzon of Kedlestone, Viceroy of India.

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