It has remained seriously dry in Kent throughout July and whilst yields might be expected to be low as a consequence, pests and disease have been thin on the ground too, suggesting decent quality. Humphrey the hop grower is even more bullish about quality than last year, when he was even more bullish than the year before, when he was even more bullish than the year before that - in fact, he can't possibly get any more bullish next year or he'll be attracting unwanted attentions from his herds. "An inch [rain] would do it" he tells me, bullishly. We're in negotiations over the 40kg of freshly picked, undried East Kent Goldings I want to collect from him during harvest, in early September. They're to go in a fresh 'green' hop ale of, as yet, undecided recipe. Naturally it isn't him that brings up the weight subject, you see, undried hops weigh eight times more than dried.
"I'm not after buying water" I say.
"Why not?" says Humphrey "what you sell is mainly water, isn't it?"
That isn't Humphrey's hand in the picture, his are gnarled and knotted like farmer's.