Sunday, 7 July 2013

UK hop production by variety 1984-1986

The Journal of the Institute of Brewing is a gift that keeps giving. Especially now I've become temporarily obsessed with the hop industry.

One of the reasons I love its articles so much are all the tables. I'm a total sucker for tables, as you may have noticed. The more numbers the better, as far as I'm concerned.

I've collected all sorts of different numbers, but never any related to the quantities grown of each different type of hop.  I find it fascinating, probably because it's new to me.

Five types of hop together accounted for around 85% of production: Goldings, Fuggle, Northdown, Challenger and Target. It's a good demonstration of the perennial popularity of Goldings and Fuggle, which have both been around for well over 100 years.

I must see if I can dig out similar figures for a more recent period. I'm sure that Goldings and Fuggle would still be popular, but I suspect that there would have been a lot of changes amongst the other varieties. If only becasue this is just when the industry went into a tailspin, with output falling to unheard levels. The greatest quantity of hops produced in any year since 1984 was 104,000 cwt.

Because the original figures were given in pockets, ot's not possible to translate them precisely to a weight. A pocket holds between 1.5 and 2 cwt., depending on the type of hop and how it's been packed. So it's hard to check if the figures are for the complete hop crop. To cross check, here are the actual production figures:

UK hop production
Year Cwts.
1984 127,883
1985 99,814
1986 102,161
Statistical Handbook of the British Beer and Pub Association 2011, page 20.

It's clear that if the figures aren't for the whole crop, it's very close to being all of it.

UK hop production by variety 1984-1986
1986* 1985 1984
Variety cwt % cwt % cwt %
Goldings 12,425 15.66% 13,194 13.21% 13,259 11.14%
W.G.V. 2,511 3.17% 3,671 3.67% 3,926 3.30%
Fuggle 11,426 14.40% 12,446 12.46% 15,401 12.94%
Progress 1,191 1.50% 1,635 1.64% 1,461 1.23%
Bramling Cross 1,053 1.33% 1,661 1.66% 2,699 2.27%
Northern Brewer 240 0.30% 368 0.37% 1,293 1.09%
Wye Northdown 11,291 14.23% 14,634 14.65% 16,550 13.91%
Zenith 674 0.85% 1,044 1.05% 1,244 1.04%
Wye Challenger 11,637 14.67% 15,333 15.35% 18,006 15.13%
Wye Target 20,066 25.29% 26,966 26.99% 36,876 30.99%
Yeoman 6,273 7.91% 8,405 8.41% 6,501 5.46%
Omega 497 0.63% 152 0.15% - -
Others 50 0.06% 395 0.39% 1,790 1.50%
Total 79,331 99,900 119,003
Weights calculated from pockets assuming 1.5 cwt per pocket
* Provisional figures
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 93, Issue 3, May-June 1987, page 209.

More, tables, I know. Don't worry, I'm sure it's just a phase I'm going through.

1 comment:

Jeremy Drew said...

In economic theory, countries specialise according to where the competitive advantage is greatest. Classic English hops are unique, as are English ales but globally these are both small niche markets.

As the international market changed to be dominated by high alpha varieties then English production has lost out. Is the biggest fall in varieties like Target?

Leaving an industry of small-scale producers without the ability to intervene of the Hop Marketing Board would of course have made the situation worse.

I am a pretty inept gardener I admit, but my efforts at trying to grow the things make me think that it is a fairly marginal crop in this country.