Southwold brewer Adnams seeks wild hops to create distinctive pale ale

Adnams head brewer Fergus Fitzgerald with last year's crop of wild hops.

Adnams head brewer Fergus Fitzgerald with last year's crop of wild hops. - Credit: Archant

A Southwold brewer is appealing to landowners, gardeners and growers for wild hops to create a distinctive and “unpredictable” beer.

Last year, Adnams made its first Wild Hop Amber Pale Ale, made from fresh, green hops donated from gardens and wild spaces. Like grape varieties, each hop variety has its own distinctive aroma, flavour and bitterness.

To ensure a truly fresh green hop beer, the collected hops will be frozen until the brewing date and will be mixed with a few tamed garden and commercially grown hops. There is just one brew of the Wild Hop beer which will be in pubs in the autumn. The beer will be available in bottle from Adnams Stores.

Head brewer Fergus Fitzgerald said: “We were overwhelmed by the public’s interest in last year’s call for hops, and we’re really looking forward to receiving this season’s harvest. By sourcing hops in this way, there will be an unknown mix of varieties to work with and each is likely to be grown in varying soil types – which means it’s all slightly unpredictable, but that’s what makes it so interesting.

“Last year, hops were brought in from Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, which gave the beer a true taste of East Anglia. If you know someone who has a hop plant growing in their garden and may like to donate their hops for our community brew, please let them know. The more hops we have, the more we can brew. We’ve promised to give anyone who donates garden or wild hops, some of the finished beer as a thank you for their foraging.”

Adnams is looking for hops picked early in September, before they start turning from green to brown. It is also important that the hops have only been sprayed with food-friendly pesticides or are organic.

The brewer is asking that growers and foragers pick the plant’s green cones, leaving the bine in tact so that the plant will regrow next year.

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The hops can be delivered to the Southwold Store up until September 19. A guide to hop spotting and picking can be found at adnams.co.uk. The brewer is keen to stress that if the hops are on private land, pickers must seek permission of the landowner. The brewer is also working closely with conservationists on the suitability of each location for collecting wild hops on common land.