Faram’s Beth Eaton and Charles Faram Farms grower and Faram’s Director, Sarah Hawkins, embarked on a whirlwind tour through Yorkshire on a mission to show Sarah what happens once the hops leave the farm. Here Beth gives us the low down on their experience.
The team here at Faram’s know how exciting and inspiring it is for hop growers to meet brewers, and brewers to meet hop growers face to face on site at the brewery or farm. When the brewers are using hops which have been grown by that particular grower too there is an immense feeling of pride all round.
When Sarah confessed that she had never visited Yorkshire and never toured a brewery, I couldn’t wait to introduce her to some of our friends in Yorkshire. I experienced how insightful and beneficial this meeting of the two sides of the coin can be while working on an exciting collaboration with Buxton Brewery and taking across a group of UK hop growers in August 2021.
Traditional and recent
Our three-day tour of Yorkshire breweries began at Ossett. Paul Spencer enthused about their collaboration brew with Thornbridge, a beer called Heritage IPA Seasonals Archives – Ossett Brewery (ossett-brewery.co.uk) which credited another Charles Faram Farms hop grower, Simon Parker, with growing the Goldings at Instone Court Instone Court | Herefordshire | Hops .
Paul was thrilled with the beer and hopes it will remind brewers and consumers how effective Golding hops can be. He proudly modelled the latest beer pump clip for Mystic and gave us a sneak preview of his next collaboration with Marble Beers using Harlequin®. Mystic™ and Harlequin® were released from the Charles Faram Hop Development Program just a couple of years apart (Mystic™ 2015 & Harlequin® 2017) . Both hops are daughters of two different, successful, Charles Faram brand varieties. This was most definitely the best possible start to the tour for Sarah.
At the next stop, Rooster’s, Oliver Fozard gave us a tour of the new brewery commissioned in 2019. We were mightily impressed with the forward planning of the seasonal beers schedule and who knows, maybe one of Sarah’s hops Progress, Pilgrim, Sovereign, Olicana®, Jester® or Harlequin® will feature one day.
The Hawkins family have been at The Farm, Bosbury since the mid 1940s but the earlier generations were based at farms in both Herefordshire and Kent.
The hops are currently grown by Sarah Hawkins and Farm Manager, Matt Bailey. They are both very keen on experimenting with new varieties and new and sustainable ways of producing the crop at the highest quality possible.
Charles Faram is a grower owned company. Hop grower Thomas Hawkins saw an opportunity to help out a local business when the company faced financial difficulties in 1984. His family now support us through a trust he set up.
Next up was Hambleton Ales and it was great to see them in full swing too. Their contract brewing and packaging operation has expanded due to demand which is encouraging. We saw some canned beers from very well-known breweries but I don’t think I’m allowed to say which ones. What I can say is that we were chuffed to bits with one in particular knowing that it uses only UK grown hops from Charles Faram.
On the drive to our next stop in Masham Sarah acknowledged that Charles Faram & Co has thrived by supplying hops from all over the world, years before other suppliers joined in, but with her farm in Herefordshire struggling to keep control of ever-increasing costs any good news of UK hops being used in beer is extremely welcome and motivational.
You can feel the history and get absorbed in thoughts of what and who went before when walking around T & R Theakston’s brewery with Mark Slater. Sarah was fascinated by the Cooperage Cooperage – Theakston (theakstons.co.uk) a sight rarely seen in the UK these days. I reminisced about the coopers at Frederic Robinson Ltd when I joined in 1995. How times have changed. Seeing huge bales of hops in the storeroom added to the atmosphere of a brewery that’s been around since 1827. That’s just 38 years older than Charles Faram, although we were involved in hops and hop growing way before that.
‘Drink Cask Beer’ it will change your life
As we all know, cask ale is in decline, but we also know that there is huge will and enthusiasm in the industry to do something about it. As we enjoyed a beer with Dan Scott-Paul at Black Sheep Brewery he told us about their ‘Drink Cask Beer’ campaign and subsequent the reaction to the recently publicised video Mean Tweets with Maisie Adam | Black Sheep Brewery It’s a bit of a shocker for those of us with delicate ears but the message is clear, DRINK CASK BEER. This meet up provided Sarah with a clearer, ground level insight into the work that breweries are undertaking to improve, educate and campaign for to save their industry.
Over at Goose Eye one of the first questions asked was ‘have you got any Emperor™ available?’. This is an even more recent release and is grown by Simon Parker and Mark Andrews. It’s so new that there is extremely limited availability. Sarah’s face lit up! Sarah is heavily involved in the Hop Development Program and so she was thrilled to hear a brewer enthusing about this new variety.
We had time to make an impromptu call at Pennine at Well. Tim Butler and the team gave us a warm welcome and were still smiling about their brewing awards presented at SIBA BeerX!
Adrian Chapman at Wishbone was in the middle of knocking a wall down when we surprised him with a visit. He took the time to update us on his exciting plans for the brewery and proudly showed us the barrel ageing project which he cannot wait to taste.
We left Adrian to get back to his demolition work and moved onward to the last brewery, Timothy Taylor & Co to see Andrew Leman and Tim Dewey who kindly gave us a history of the company and the thinking behind ‘All for that taste of Taylor’s’. They gave us a full brewery tour including a demo of the yeast at various stages which Sarah found fascinating. The science behind brewing and the vision of the ingredients at work is something that the growers rarely get to see. To be that heavily involved in the process at one end makes the part where the magic happens quite mesmerising and interesting. It sparks a feeling that all the hard work that the growers put in is important and worthwhile, from sustaining the traditional varieties to expertise and resource that goes into developing new ones.
We rounded our snippet tour of Yorkshire breweries by enjoying a delicious lunch and admiring the stunning views from
What else do you need to know about Yorkshire breweries Sarah? The answer. “Nowt ta.”
My work here is done! Until the next time.
Thank you to all the breweries we visited.