Newnham Farm hop fields

Herefordshire-based Brook House Hops is expanding threefold by increasing its acreage into neighbouring Worcestershire.

The owner of Britain’s largest area of hop farm, Newnham, also independent, saw what Brook House is doing and called on the team to manage the farm, which is just half an hour north of its existing base.

The owner was considering turning the farmland from hops to asparagus, as the English hop market is at times uncertain, due to the popularity of strains grown in America, New Zealand, and parts of Europe.

But wanting to preserve the ancient tradition of UK hop growing as much as possible, Brook House took the land under its wing and began to sell the British-grown hops directly to brewers.

The Newnham owner, concerned that the skills required to grow hops were in danger of dying out, is now working with Brook House Hops.

By keeping Newnham as hop farmland, Brook House Hops is saving around 10% of English hops from disappearing, and the two sites complement each other.

With three sites now in the cooperative, Brook House Hops grows roughly 15% of all hops produced in the UK.

Newhnam Farm
Newnham Farm

In January, it intends to restore the early 1900s traditional farmhouse on site into offices and a showroom for customers, as well as invest in a large 1,000 square metre processing centre and cold store.

Once complete, this will be the first dedicated on-farm cold store for hops in the UK. It will enable Brook House to get all of its hops into cold storage less than 24 hours from picking, helping to preserve aromas for customers.

Owner Will Kirby said: “Farmer-owned hop growing co-operatives have worked very well in other countries, like Yakima Chief in the USA, and HVG Germany. It is exciting to bring other farms into the Brook House umbrella.”

Farm manager, Henry Smith, who actually grew up on Newnham Farm, said: “I’m really excited about replicating the attention to detail we have worked on at Brook House Farm on a larger scale in the Teme Valley.

“The valley floodplain has extremely fertile soil and we are looking forward to experimenting with the aromas we can get from the ground here. We are focused on getting high-quality British hops into the hands of our customers — expansion to Newnham will allow us to serve more brewers with our prize-winning hops.

“Growing on two sites will also reduce any risk brewers take if they buy all of their hops from one producer. We can’t wait to get started.”

Finally, positive news for the locals is that because Brook House Hops are tripling in size, the team will be expanding greatly. There are openings for talented sales and operations people already, find out more e-mail sebastian@brookhousehops.com for more details.

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