Hogs Back Brewery recently celebrated its 30th birthday with a special ’30 at 30′ event, to which 30 local loyal drinkers were invited to join the company for a celebratory pint of its flagship beer, Tongham TEA.
Commenting on entering their fourth decade in business, Hogs Back Brewery’s managing director Rupert Thompson said: “We wanted to celebrate our 30th birthday with thanks to loyal customers who have supported us for 30 years, as without them, we wouldn’t be here today.
“Over the years, TEA has been requested as the beer at many weddings and other celebrations, so for a whole generation of local people, it has a special place in their lives.
“Many [who attended the event] also spoke about coming here with their parents to collect a barrel of Tongham TEA and are now doing the same with their own adult children. We’re of course delighted to see this tradition continue, and by inviting some of these younger drinkers to join our celebrations, we hope that they too become lifelong Tongham TEA drinkers!”
The ’30 at 30′ gathering was one of the last to be held in the Hogs Back hangar this summer before it switches from being a bar and event space to become the hub of the hop harvest, which started at the end of August. Hop bines cut in the hop garden just yards away are brought back to the hangar where they are sorted, then dried and vacuum packed, which allows them to add flavour and aroma to the brewers’ beers all year round.
Bringing in the hops from the 8.5-acre field is expected to take several weeks and will be celebrated at the Hogs Back Hop Harvest weekend of 24-25 September. The Hop Harvest Festival on the Saturday will include a fantastic musical line up including top Queen tribute band, Majesty, while the TEA Party on the Sunday is more family-focused with a range of children’s entertainment.
Hogs Back will harvest three hop varieties this year: Fuggles (used in Tongham TEA); English Cascade (used in Hogstar Lager & Surrey Nirvana Session IPA) and Farnham White Bine (a traditional local variety that the brewer saved from near-extinction).
Interesting facts about the Hogs Back Hop Garden
- Hogs Back will harvest 6,000 hop plants this year, from 8.5 acres of prime farmland;
- The hop plants are supported with over 100 large posts and ten miles of high tensile steel wire, strung 18ft above the plants;
- Hogs Back planted its original 3.5-acre hop garden in 2014 and completed four harvests before moving to the larger site in spring 2019;
- Hogs Back cultivates three hop varieties: Fuggles, Cascade & Farnham White Bine;
- Farnham was historically one of the most important hop farming regions in the UK; the land is ideal for hop growing with a rich, loamy top soil over a chalky subsoil;
- The Farnham White Bine hop was originally developed in the early 1700s, just a mile and a half from the current Hogs Back brewery. It was highly prized for its aromas and was the precursor variety to the better-known Kent Goldings;
- Hop farming in Farnham started to wane at the end of the 19th century in the face of growing competition from the Kent hops, which were preferred by London’s brewers, and the rising cost of agricultural labour. The industry declined and finally died out in the mid-1970s.