Wimbledon Brewery in south-west London hosted the Institute of Brewing & Distilling’s ‘British Hop Awards’ where the TG Redsell business walked away champion grower for their Cascade hops. The competition highlighted the skills of British hop growers in producing hops with a vibrant and pungent aroma, challenging the belief that English grown hops are all primarily delicate and nuanced. Winners amongst the categories were crowded by newer English varieties that have stemmed from breeding programmes in a response to brewers asking for more intense aroma producing floral, citrus and fruit characteristics.
Charles Faram’s own varieties Olicana and Jester took away prizes from the competition.
British Hop Awards organiser and Hop Judge Shane McNamara commented “In what was a challenging growing year for the farmers, it was an exceptional year for the newer British hop varieties and their American counterparts grown in the UK.” Hops such as Jester and Olicana proved highly successful when pitched against the likes of Cascade and Chinook in a growing year that has produced intense aroma from these hops. The winning hop of Cascade was chosen for its wonderfully strong aroma of citrus peel, oranges and tangerine. The award was one of two for the Kent based growers who also picked up an accolade for their Fuggle hops.
The strategy of developing unique British grown hops that can deliver aroma characteristics once thought not possible in the UK countryside was championed by Ali Capper from the British Hop Association “It has been a clear strategy of the Wye Hops Board for over 9 years to breed new British Hops that deliver stronger unique aromas for the brewers and British Hop growers are certainly delivering this today with over 28 different varieties available. There will always be something new, something different and something a brewer has not tried before from British Hops.”
Hop acreage in the UK increased by 8.5% over the past year proving to be the largest growth in many years. With the strength of the breeding programmes, skill of the growers producing quality hops in a difficult growing year due to mild winters and mini droughts, the future of British hops looks bright once again.
THE INSTITUTE OF BREWING AND DISTILLING BRITISH HOP COMPETITION 2016
2016 Competition Winner’s List:
- Class A: The Le May Cup awarded for the best sample of Goldings and eligible clones.
1st – S J Adams & Son (Goldings)#5
2nd – R Lane (Goldings)#35
3rd – S J Adams & Son (Goldings)#70
- Class B: The Hop Merchants Cup awarded for the best sample of hops (from each individual Category) bought on the basis of their aroma character, irrespective of Alpha Acid content.
Category A: High Aroma intensity
1st – T G Redsell Ltd (UK Cascade)#5555
2nd – M H & L Andrews (Olicana)#415
3rd – M H & L Andrews (Jester)#522
Category B: Strong Aroma Intensity
1st – Little Lambswick (Challenger)#285
2nd – C R & G Daws (Challenger)#205
3rd – J W Spilsbury & Co (Challenger)#315
Category C: Delicate Aroma Intensity
1st – Little Pell Farm (Pilgrim)#315
2nd – M R & A Capper (Phoenix)#15
3rd – Clive & Richard Edmed (First Gold)#705
- Class C: The Brewers Cup awarded for the best sample of hops that are bought primarily for their high Alpha Acid content.
1st – S T Tipples (Admiral)#375
2nd – H M Batt (Admiral)#705
3rd – M & R Hancocks (Target)#345
- Class D: The Wigan Cup awarded for the best sample of Fuggle.
1st – Hampton Estate#85
2nd – M & R Hancocks#185
3rd – T G Redsell Ltd#8705
- Class E: The Barth Haas Cup awarded for the best sample of Dwarf/Hedgerow variety.
1st – L E Humphreys & Sons (Boadicea)#65
2nd – M R & A Capper (Sovereign)#295
3rd – Clive & Richard Edmed (Sovereign)#435
- Class F: The Grower’s Challenge Bowl awarded for the best sample of new English grown variety.
1st – M R & A Capper (Jester)#425
2nd – M H & L Andrews (Jester)#305
3rd – Pridewood Hops (UK Chinook)#505
- Champion: The best overall hop sample from the winners of classes A to F for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling Award will be announced at the awards ceremony in January!
Comments from the Judges
The judges met in November at the English Hops Limited Showroom in Paddock Wood, Kent. This year they were faced with 168 samples across 27 varieties of British hops, all excellently prepared and presented.
The judges are keen to highlight that their decisions are made on their abilities first and foremost as brewers and that their selection of winning samples is based upon a number of criteria including:-
v Trueness to variety type
v Quality and intensity of aroma
v Disease and pest free
v Presentation of sample
… Or put more simply, the hop sample in each category that they would most want to use to brew their own beers!
Samples are always presented ‘blind’ and categories are judged from low to high intensity aroma. All of the samples are inspected by all of the judges and the top three in each class are selected by agreement after debate and voting.
Class A: The Le May Cup for the best sample of Goldings and eligible clones
The judges commented that there was a range of ripeness across the samples with some showing more trueness to type attributes than others. Aroma intensity of the Goldings was more subdued than previous years, however, a similar intensity to last year. The category winner, a sample of Goldings from S J Adams & Son, was chosen for presentation as well as its elevated aroma. Congratulations to R Lane (Goldings) for second place and to S J Adams & Son for third place for another sample of their Goldings.
Class B: The Hop Merchants Cup for the best sample of British hops bought on the basis of their flavour character, regardless of Alpha Acid content.
Overall the quality of aroma across the class was on par with previous years with some novel and pleasant characteristics coming through on a number of samples. A difficult class to judge due to some of the wonderfully pungent samples, much debate was had over some of the categories. In Category A, T G Redsell Ltd (UK Cascade) was picked by the judges as the group winner for its vivid intensity and excellent presentation. Category B samples across the group had lower aroma intensities than expected when compared to Categories A and C. The category was won by Little Lambswick (Challenger) for its aroma intensity, just nudging out 2nd and 3rd, both of which were also Challenger. Category C was taken out by Little Pell Farm (Pilgrim). With a clean pick and slight brownness the quality and intensity of the aroma just edged out 2nd place Phoenix from M R & A Capper.
Class C: The Brewers Cup for the best sample of British hops that are bought primarily for their high Alpha Acid content.
The judges again this year focused their considerations on the characteristics of the hops for dual purpose use. The group was relatively subdued in terms of aroma intensity with a couple of samples standing out. The class winner was a sample of Admiral from S T Tipples.
Class D: The Wigan Cup for the best sample of Fuggle.
Overall the judges commented that hops were subdued in aroma (although true to type) with a brown and reddish hue to most samples. Judging for this class was difficult due to the delicate aroma, however, the winner Hampton Estate provided a sample that met all expectations of a true Fuggle hop.
Class E: The Barth Haas Cup for the best sample of Dwarf/Hedgerow variety.
The pick samples this year once again proved to be of a high quality across the different varieties. There was a good range of aroma intensity, complexity and moisture levels. First placed was a sample of Boadicea from L E Humphreys & Sons.
Class F: The Grower’s Challenge Bowl for the best sample of new English grown variety.
The samples this year overall were ripe and with low moisture. The diverse nature of the group again provided good deliberation. As seen in the success of the other categories from new and international varieties the judges were keen to include newly UK grown varieties from not only the UK but abroad. The winners were very close with much deliberation had, however, Jester has taken out both 1st and 2nd place in the category with M R & A Capper taking out the class.
Overall it was great to see the ingenuity and adaptability of the British hop growers shine through this year. In a year where traditional varieties such as Fuggle, Goldings and Bramling Cross were more subdued, the likes of Cascade, Jester, Olicana, Chinook and Pilgrim showed strong and unique aroma characteristics. As a final comment we would like to thank the hop growers and all the growing groups for their support in making this competition happen. We hope to see as many growers, merchants and brewers at the awards lunch in January and would particularly like to welcome younger growers and brewers as this is a great opportunity to see samples from across the whole range of British hop varieties.
Judges for the 2016 competition:
- John Bexon
- Ciaran Giblin
- Shane McNamara
- Derek Prentice
- Mark Slater
- Dan Griffiths