Hoppy times are here again for a feast of delighted brewers as the Charles Faram HopWalk returns
The annual Charles Faram HopWalk was back in business this year, although eased in gently with a less packed schedule taking place on one day instead of two.
As with many events, last year Charles Faram took the event online with crop reports, seminars, meeting rooms and updates all taking place on an exhibition-style platform. This year with many COVID safety measures in place, including proof of a negative lateral flow test they were able to hold the event on-site at Stocks Farm in Suckley, Worcestershire run by Richard and Ali Capper.
Almost 400 people gathered in a marquee that was expanded by another 225m² to accommodate the increasing registrations. As always, the sides were removed for increased ventilation, which usually occurs because of the heat, but even on this rainy day, the safety of guests was paramount.
After the COVID checks, guests were welcomed with their Charles Faram goody bag and refreshments including cask and keg beers from Wye Valley, Green Duck, Swan Brewery, Utopian, McColl’s Brewery, Buxton Brewery, Liverpool Brewery, Vocation, and a collaboration between Elusive and Anspach & Hobday
Guests then had time to network with Charles Faram supplier partners before sitting down to a meal served by local caterers. There was no key–note speaker this year due to the travel restrictions, and the usual panel of worldwide growers were presented via video. The reports came in saying that alphas were good this year although yields are down due to hailstorms in the European countries and fires in the USA. Disease, pests, and labour were not so much of an issue as previous years.
Ali Capper from Stocks Farm and the British Hop Association explained the importance of supporting British Hops and described the impact that the pub closures had on the hop yards and hop growers. The local farms have had to grub up yards or put in place expensive measures to stop the hops from growing until the situation recovers. Meanwhile, hop growers, Charles Faram and Wye Hops are working hard to cater to the changing tastes of the market by continuing to develop and trial new hop varieties.
After lunch, it was off to visit the hop yards and farm buildings to follow the process from the picking machines, through to the kilns and then to the baler. Mask wearing was enforced in order to protect the farmworkers. With just a small window of 6 weeks for picking and processing hops, it is vital not to lose any of the workforce or the farm would shut down. When the hops are ready, they are ready and will wait for no one.
To end the day, hop tourers could either visit The Hop Shed Brewery Tap a few metres from the picking sheds and HopWalk marquee, and then those with their green hop orders could make a mad dash to get them into the boil within the recommended 24-hour period from picking.
I’m a new comer to commercial brewing and the HopWalk. Being able to network with well-established brewers, who are always friendly, open, and willing to share experiences and provide guidance, is a real treat. ~ Athena Brewing Company
The Charles Faram Hopwalk is an event that takes pride of place on our calendar. It gives us an opportunity to meet friends and colleagues from far and near. It gives me a chance to catch up on what’s happening in the hop world and then I can pass that on to my customers who may not all be professional brewers but are passionate about brewing good beer nevertheless. For several years I have been encouraging customers to use British hops and after hearing Ali Capper’s presentation this has become even more urgent. As always, the attention to detail and organisation by Charlie and the team was faultless and the food and beer was excellent. We are already looking forward to next year’s Hop Walk. ~ Brewmonkey Homebrew
The Charles Faram Hopwalk is an institution in the professional brewers’ calendar, and should be experienced at least once to appreciate the work that goes into producing the UK’s finest hops. ~ Exmoor Ales