Last night I attended the Kent Hop Competition over on the other side of the County, in Marden, hosted by the local cricket club. It was a unique chance to rub and sniff my way through the best samples, from the keenest growers, in the hunt for a new addition to our battery.
Being a born and bred townie I was very much the alien in a room packed with wonderfully eccentric hop growers and mad farmers - even the other two brewers present were wise in the ways of the country. I felt like I was scubba diving, visiting another kind of world: crazily different, certainly irrational to my eyes and yet welcoming, friendly and jovial. But clearly not an environment I could hope to survive in for long. (As it was, the NUF branch Chairperson kept me in there until I was gasping for air.)
Anyway, big congratulations to our mate Humphrey who took the top prize in the 'Northdown' category with a stunning sample - we're very proud of him. (Not that he'd ever bother his a**e turning up - far too cool for that - I'm sure he's a townie really).
Tomorrow morning I'm taking a chunk of Humphrey's East Kent Goldings, harvested just a few weeks ago, and brewing a good old fashioned Pale Ale of decadent proportions, the better to assess this year's local lupuline qualities. I predict the brewhouse will smell like a Kent country oast by midday.