So it’s that time again- the fourth Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight.
This year over twenty Kent breweries have produced Green hopped beers for the fortnight which kicked off on Friday 25th September.
For the uninitiated Green hopped beer is beer made with fresh hops rather than dried hops or pellets.
It’s fitting as Kent has a heritage of hop growing. The national hop collection is located near Faversham and varieties such as East Kent Goldings and Fuggles are local lads – or should I say lasses as its’ the female hops that are used for beer.
Living on the edge of Kent and London as I do I know I have the best of both worlds. I can be in central London within half an hour – I’ve made it to breweries in Hackney in less than an hour before now. But also I can be in the Kent countryside within ten minutes.
As I thundered through the countryside on a train to Canterbury last Saturday I felt very lucky to be so close to this beautiful landscape not to mention all the produce it yields – lavender, apples, locally produced meat and of course hops.
We have a great and varied landscape here in the UK; the panoramic flatness of Norfolk, the wild ruggedness of north Cornwall and the lush green rolling hills of Shropshire and Wales for example but I adore Kent. Farms, green fields, wooden weather boarded houses and I spotted an Oast house as my train left Sevenoaks. And much as I love London I can’t help wishing this was my daily commute instead of the journey I make each day to Wandsworth.
But I digress so back to the purpose of my journey. The start of Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight coincides with the Canterbury Food and Drink festival every September. The festival is held in the Dane John Gardens, a short walk from both Canterbury East and West train stations. My final destination was the beer tent dedicated to the Green Hopped Beers.
This year the gods were smiling down on us as despite being almost October the sun was shining and no jacket was required. Being British however I never the leave the house without an umbrella so had a telescopic brolly in my rucksack- some may call me pessimistic, I prefer realistic!
There was a good selection on offer at the green hop beer tent and here are my recommendations:
Ever reliable Goody Ales have three green hop beers this year. I had the Good Harvest, an Amber Ale with a 3.8% abv. Good Harvest has a malty backbone and with good carbonation and a clean hop taste is refreshing on the palate.
Also very good is the Green Giant from Kent Brewery. An IPA with an ABV of 6%, Green Giant is extremely easy drinking with sweet malt notes. East Kent Goldings are used in this beer making it spicy and exuberant. Nice!
Making their Green Hop debut are my friends at the Rocking Robin Brewery. There had been doubts about the availability of their beer Hop Rock It for Saturday due to the hops – our great British weather strikes again! Hop Rock It was ready however and received good reviews. An Old English Ale, Hop Rock It is a darker ale which is good to see amongst the Pale and Golden Ales. A rich malty beer which I enjoyed. I look forward to trying it again in a week or two when it will be at its peak and I hope in my local micro pub One Inn the Wood.
Whilst there is a good choice of Pale and Golden ales plus an array of best bitters I love a dark beer and before heading home tried Pig a Porter’s Strangely Brown, a Porter at 4.4%. Looking good with a creamy head, Strangely Brown is a smooth balanced beer with roasted barley notes. Fabulous!
Finally from the Canterbury Brewers at the Foundry I had Harvest Night. A Black IPA hopped with East Kent Goldings. Harvest Night has great carbonation with smoky bitter notes. I really liked Harvest Night so it was good to finish on a high.
Kent Green Hop Beer Fortnight runs till 11th October. Saturday 10th is East Kent Open Day when five breweries throw open their doors to the public. There is a bus service which can be booked online so see the Kent Green Hop website for details and a list of locations where you can get Green Hop beer.
These beers are very special and unique so take this opportunity to celebrate Kent’s great beer and hop heritage.
Cheers as we say in these parts!