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Raising the bar: UK hops are hip again

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Lou Treseder of Driftwood Spars shares the need-to-know on this year’s key beer trend

Driftwood Spars

It turns out that UK hops are hip again and the British hop-growing industry is undergoing a renaissance, producing some extremely quaffable beers.

‘Over the past 10 years there has been plenty of excitement about hops imported from Australasia and the US, but British hop growers haven’t been idle,’ says Lou, who only uses British hops at her Driftwood Spars brewery.

‘Producers have been investing time and money in developing new strains of hops which provide interesting aromas and bitter flavours to rival New World competitors.’

Like grapes, the terroir of the soil influences the hops’ flavour. In the UK our great soils, mild maritime climate and even rainfall make excellent growing conditions. In 1998 there were 13 commercially grown varieties in Britain. Now there are 31 – with more added each year.

‘British aroma hops give notes of tangerine, citrus, mint, honey, floral, molasses, chocolate, blackcurrant, spice and pepper,’ says Lou. ‘In the past these have been rather muted compared to overseas hops.’

Driftwood Spars brewer Peter Martin has been experimenting with some (so far) unnamed hops provided by Malvern hop merchants Charles Faram.

‘We make them into a single hopped brew with a standard malt base,’ says Lou. ‘It’s well received by our customers and we’re looking forward to making more this year.’

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