Next Generation Hops for a New Generation of Brewers
Brook House Hops have taken a huge leap forward on the path to sustainability in the farming and brewing industry with the introduction of a revolutionary new hop product that does not require kiln drying.In fact, independent sustainability consultants working on the Low Carbon Hop project calculated that the new hop preservation process emits up to 10x less CO2e/ kg of hops compared to a standard diesel-fired kiln. This is of considerable interest to brewers looking to produce beers with a much low carbon footprint and reduce the overall environmental impact of their supply chains.
Will Kirby, owner and farmer at Brook House Hops in Herefordshire explains the background to the project.
“In general hops have been grown and processed in the same traditional way for centuries, and as relative newcomers to the industry, we’ve always embraced innovation if we’re confident it will enhance the quality of our hops. Sometimes this involves using new technology, as we have done on the farming side, and sometimes it is in the way we process and cold-store our hops.
Sustainability is also at the heart of everything we do, whether this is rewilding areas of our farm to attract beneficial insects and reduce our use of crop protection products, or the packaging recycling and renewables investments we’ve made on the operations side.
Developing Low Carbon Hops supports both of these key aims, and importantly gives brewers another way to improve their own sustainability goals.”
The current method of drying hops to preserve valuable aromas, flavours and oils uses diesel-fired kilns and happens immediately after hops are harvested. This process is the same around the world and accounts for nearly 50% of the overall carbon emissions in hop production so is the obvious area to look at when trying to reduce emissions.
“At Brook House Hops we’d already invested in the UK’s only indirect-fired kiln which is specially engineered to keep combustion gasses separate from the drying hops. This separation prevents the ingress of unwanted diesel fumes and guarantees purity in the flavour and aroma profile of the hop. However, the process is still reliant on diesel and runs almost continually for several weeks throughout harvest. With fuel prices rising exponentially, we were obviously keen to investigate creative solutions that would reduce our consumption without affecting the quality of our hops.
How do we preserve the hop without a kiln?
Working with a specialist company with extensive experience in food technology, and a sustainability consultant to crunch the numbers, we started to look at new ways of removing kiln drying completely and preserving the hop without destroying the valuable oils within them. We ran several tests using New Zealand hops (which are available earlier in the growing year) and consulted with brewers prior to making the necessary changes in time for our own harvest process.
After hop cones are removed from the bine and separated from the unwanted plant material a proportion were diverted away from the kiln. This sometimes happens anyway when brewers collect fresh green hops, so wasn’t too much of a change for us to manage. These whole cone hops were then immediately fed into a machine that was designed to shred them into a much finer hop leaf material. These will become our Low Carbon Hops.
The shredded hop material is then weighed, bagged into foils, sealed and immediately cold-stored prior to undergoing specialist preservation processing that locks in oils and eliminates harmful bacteria. During kiln drying, a hop cone will normally lose about 75% of its moisture, our new process retains more moisture, but the flavour and aroma profile of the hops is unaffected. Our Low Carbon Hops remain in temperature-controlled conditions throughout the whole process and have also undergone microbiological lab safety tests.
This year we’ve processed 3 of our most popular British hop varieties in this way; Pilgrim, Goldings and UK Chinook and having spoken to brewers about the possibility of Low Carbon Hops during our hop walks we know there is considerable excitement about brewing with them.”
Low Carbon Hops are exclusive to Brook House Hops and will be available for brewers to order in November 2022.
Sign up below to join our waiting list and be among the first brewers to try these revolutionary new hops.