Green hop blessing...

by David Swatton September. 04, 2018 555 views

I live in Herefordshire which, with neighbouring Shropshire and Worcestershire, are known collectively as the Hopshires because of the long history of hop growing and consequently beer brewing. At this time of year the hop harvest is underway. Now hops deteriorate quickly once picked so usually they are taken straight to a kiln and dried to preserve them for brewing. But in that drying process, the volatile natural oils in the fresh hops which can contribute to a beer’s taste and aroma are lost. However, recent years have seen the revival of a tradition of making “green hop” beers at this time of year where brewers add some freshly harvested hops to their brew. The window of opportunity for making these beers is very small as the fresh hops are added to a beer that is already being made on the day they were picked so timing of the overall process is crucial.

Another tradition, tied in with harvest festival, is the blessing of the hops, and yesterday these things came together at Swan Brewery, a local brewery in Leominster, where they were making their first batch of green hop beer this year and having the hops blessed.

The ministry team from Leominster Priory were on hand to officiate with a simple blessing – apparently the oldest prayer in the English language, written in Old English from Anglo-Saxon days is a beer blessing!! – after which Jimmy Swan, owner and head brewer, added the bags of green hops (these were Instone Hops) to the kettle for the last 5 minutes of the boil. Following a quick stir, the green hops settle to the bottom of the kettle and then the wort is filtered through them as it is transferred to the fermentation vessels just before the yeast is added.

So there you have it. Rural traditions alive and well and being altogether very tasty! Our village pub, across the road from the house has ordered some of the beer for later this month and I am sure it will be delightful.

A few minutes of god-bothering to start

A few minutes of god-bothering to start

And then a moment of quiet reflection to think about lovely beer, well, that's what I was doing...

And then a moment of quiet reflection to think about lovely beer, well, that's what I was doing...

The blessing itself.... ouch, I should have realised they called it a kettle because it get's f*cking hot!

The blessing itself.... ouch, I should have realised they called it a kettle because it get's f*cking hot!

The green hops... what it's all about! Instone Hops for this brew.

The green hops... what it's all about! Instone Hops for this brew.

Jimmy Swan and his wife, Gill, explaining the process

Jimmy Swan and his wife, Gill, explaining the process

In they go!

In they go!

A quick stir and it's all done.

A quick stir and it's all done.

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There are 12 comments , add yours!
Camellia Staab 1 year, 1 month ago

Very interesting post and photos. Thanks for sharing.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 1 year, 1 month ago

Awesome story from Hopshire! I like the pictures - especially #3 & #4 for the important ingredient and the tasty looking end product!
Leominster?! joy I'm just reading Ben Aaronovitch's book "Foxglove Summer" ... Now I have some fitting images in the head.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 1 year, 1 month ago

I didn't know about this book but I have just seen the cover that has a map on it. If you have the same copy there is a village called Aymestrey in the top left hand corner - that is less than 5 minutes from where I live. And yes, Swan Brewery's beer is lovely beers

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue Replied to David Swatton 1 year, 1 month ago

joy thumbsup I just found Mortimers Cross - I thought it was a made up place for the story!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue 1 year, 1 month ago

There was a battle at Mortimers Cross in 1461 during the Wars of the Roses that was instrumental in Edward, Duke of York becoming Edward IV. I must get a copy of this novel you are reading - I had no idea it was set so close to home grinning

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Sigrid Strohschneider-Laue Replied to David Swatton 1 year, 1 month ago

You should read "The Rivers of London" first! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Grant_(book_series)

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Jay Boggess 1 year, 1 month ago

Fascinating info & excellent photo reportage! How was the product???

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Jay Boggess 1 year, 1 month ago

Their beer is always good. The green hop beer will be available towards the end of the month.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to David Swatton 1 year, 1 month ago

Something for which to look forward! Hooray!

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Marilyn Grimble 1 year, 1 month ago

Hands together and eyes closed? Mxx

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
David Swatton Replied to Marilyn Grimble 1 year, 1 month ago

No, I'm not the god-bothering kind - just there to support Jimmy and his wife... and take a few photos... and have a beer.

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
Marilyn Grimble Replied to David Swatton 1 year, 1 month ago

Only teasing! Mxx

1 year, 1 month ago Edited
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