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The Bloke from Hull writes...
As September approached, I remembered that it would soon be harvest time for Yorkshire Hops at Chris Bradley’s farm at Ellerker near Brough. I rang to check, having had so much fun last year with business partners Chris and Matthew Hall at the home of Yorkshire Hops.
The first of two harvest days took place on Wednesday 10th September. Following a successful trial on the previous evening, we hoped for a good yield this year. Once again, I was asked to join in and the eight rows of First Gold hops were efficiently gathered in before the mighty grading machine was put to work in one of Chris’ outbuildings.
Hops were bagged up and eager brewers, mainly from Yorkshire, came to collect sacks of the little beauties. Some were even stroking them like pets. Just a bunch of softies really! Of particular note were Paul Spencer and Lisa Handforth from Ossett Brewery who joined in the collecting and grading activities.
Green hops are at their peak at the point of harvesting so all of the brewers were soon in action performing their magic either later on or the following day.
I had met Phil Saltonstall, the Brass Castle Brewery chief, quite by chance in the Chequers Micropub the previous week and he asked me to go along and assist with the brewing of a beer with the First Gold green hops at his brewery in Malton. Matthew from Yorkshire Hops also works at Brass Castle, it was all arranged just like that.
Matt picked me up in his van full of green hops and we drove to the brewery via a very interesting route, most of the roads of which I had never been along before. The brew team of Aron, Phil and Matt were soon in action and were joined by myself and local beer enthusiast Racheal. The normal brewing process was followed until mountains of the First Gold green hops were added at which point stirring became a most important issue – that’s where Racheal and I excelled. Sadly Matt and I had to leave the team to get back but we had played our part.
Even before the harvesting took place, from at least early August, Ossett brewery had been planning a green hop beer festival for September 25th to 28th at the Shepherds Boy pub in Dewsbury. As a change to the usual meet the brewer thing they were hoping to set up a meet the grower session on the opening evening. Matt and Chris had no hesitation in accepting the offer and we were on. The intention was to get around six to eight beers from outside the Ossett stable and make up to a round dozen with beer from their own breweries. I was lucky enough to attend the festival where Chris and Matt explained their work. I was able to try all of the beers, many of which had been made using the hops I had helped to pick and sort and the Brass Castle “First Gold” beer that I had helped to make. I was so honoured to be part of it all.