Brewing is all about rhythm, and rhythm is comforting. So in the brewing year The Fall is a very special time. It’s when we brewing folk meet up for a day at one of the hop farms in Herefordshire for the annual ‘Hop Walk’. It’s a bit of a jolly it’s true, as we get fed and watered and I have the chance to joust with fellow colleagues about my perceived misuse of American hops by British brewers. I am in a minority here but it’s all pretty light hearted and besides, I think I hold the moral high ground because here at Uley Brewery we pretty much exclusively use English hops.
After lunch there are presentations about how the harvest is going, new developments etc…. and then we do the hop walk. Activity is frenetic. The crews bringing in the harvest work bloody hard. Along the way there are various points where you can stop and ask questions of the various experts stationed there. I’ve done the hop walk many times, it’s a great day out and I always learn something new, and that is a joy of brewing.
So alas, given these strange times of Covid 19 there was no hop walk this year. Well, there was a virtual opportunity, but it’s not the same. But every cloud has a silver lining as they say and this year has thrown up one such prospect.
The hop walk also supplies ‘wet’ hops – whatever is being harvested that day that we use to make a green hop special. The idea is that you take one of your brews, in our case Uley Bitter and the first hop (for bittering) is added as per normal. The second hop (the aroma or flavour hop) are the green hops you have collected the day before. You need between 5 and 8 times as much in weight as you would normally use. I tell you, it’s a moment of sheer sensuous joy when we fire in 10 kilograms of green hops at the end of the boil as you become enveloped in an aromatic blanket of comfort.
So, why so special this year? Well, the hop walk takes pace early September and so we have always had an early hop. This year we could hold off and collect a later variety and that’s what we did. This year’s Uley Bitter Harvest Special features ‘Olicana’ a relatively new hop created as part of the Charles Faram hop development programme. The spec says Olicana has notes of mango and passionfruit. I’m hoping that it tastes like beer (which of course it will).
I brewed it on the 30th September. I’m looking forward to mid October to try it.
Harvest Special is now available in our shop