Monday, 15 January 2018

Hops in the 1850's

Thanks to qq for pointing me in the direction of this.

It's taken from the report of a parliamentary committee into the workins of the hop duty. These reports are great sources. Because they asked people really involved in the trade about its workins. And those witnesses see mto have answered pretty honestly.

This section provides an overview of the hop growing regions and what types of hops were grown there. The man being questioned was a hop merchant.
"1492. Mr. B. Blakemore.] I think in Sussex they grow there principally the grape and the Colegate hops? —Yes.

1493. Are those the coarser sorts or the finer sort? —They are the coarser sorts.

1494. Could you give any idea of the average produce of that land per acre? —I think it is reported at 11.5 cwt.

1495. Mr. Brande.] Are you speaking of one year? —One year, 1856.

1496. Mr. B. Blakemore.] What are the sorts grown in the Weald of Kent? —Generally grapes, and some Jones's, and some Colegates.

1497. Sir John Shelley.] Are those the same sorts that are grown in the Wealds of Sussex? —Yes, I think they are, precisely.

1498. Then when you say the Sussex hops are of a coarser sort than the Kent hops, do you mean that the Colegate hop, and the grape hop, or Jones hop
grown in Sussex is a coarser hop than those of the same kind grown in the Weald of Kent? —There is a little difference in the Sussex hop compared with
the Weald of Kent ; they are, I think, in most instances rather a coarser hop.

1499. Are the same hops coarser in Sussex than in Kent? —Yes; it is brought on by the soil.

1500. Mr. B. Blakemore.] In Mid-Kent what are the sorts grown? —In Mid-Kent they have the Goldings, and they have a superior kind of grape hops
called the Canterbury hop.

1501. Are you a general hop merchant ?—I have been.

1502. Do you buy Worcestershire and Herefordshire hops? —No.

1503. You know nothing of their quality? —No. My traveller has bought them when he has been on his journeys, occasionally.

1504. How do you rank them? — Not below Sussex ; I have seen them of a higher quality.

1505. Are they generally coarser? —From what I have seen of them, they are of great variety ; I have seen Worcestershire hops equal to anything grown
in Kent ; but I have seen some no better than Sussex hops.

1506. Do you know much of them from your own experience? —Very little.

1507. Sir Edward Dering.] What do you consider would be the average yield per acre in ordinary years of the Weald of Kent for the last seven years? —I should think 8 cwt., taking blights and large crops together.

1508. What should you think was the average of the Mid-Kent Goldings? — Mr. R. Tooth. There are different sorts ; there is no distinct part Golding hops only ; they have a mixture. of Mid-Kent which grows Golding hops only; they have a mixture.

1509. What should you say was the fair average growth of the hops of Mid-Kent? —I should think 6 cwt. for the period of seven years.

1510. Do you know anything of the East Kent hops? —Yes.

1511. What sorts are grown principally in East Kent?—They have produced great quantities of the Jones's hops lately ; I should think there are onethird
Jones's, one-third Golding's hops, and the other third grapes.

1512. Have the Jones's been introduced into the best districts of East Kent? — It is an additional plantation. I may mention that there has been a greater
demand for the best sorts of hops than there has been a supply for the few last years; so that the best hops really have not been supplied in the quantity the brewers have stood in need of; and hence it has occurred that the East Kent planters, as well as some of the Mid-Kent planters, have introduced the
Jones's hop.

1513. Have the East Kent planters generally diminished or increased their gardens during the last seven years? —I should think rather increased.

1514. Mr. Bass.] That is to say, they have increased generally, but not the fine hops? —Yes.
1515. Have not they increased generally, but diminished the growth of fine hops? —They have not diminished the finer sort. I think they have increased
the produce of the other hops.

1516. Sir Edward Dering.] Do you think there are as many good sorts of East Kent hops grown as there were years ago? —There may be as many, but
the increase of consumption is very considerable ; therefore they require a greater supply."
Report from the Select Committee on Hop Duties, 1857, pages 75-76.
 I'm surprised that the dealer wasn't that impressed by Farnham hops. They seem to have been highly regarded by brewers, who valued them more even that the best Goldings.


qq said...

Err - Farnham is in Surrey, not Sussex. He had a downer on the Colgates and grapes grown in Sussex, whereas another witness said it was only really worth growing the finest whitebines in Surrey, and even then the economics were not great. The price of Farnham whitebines is claimed by various witnesses to be about the same as Goldings, or a bit more, or a bit less. But probably the definitive word goes to when the committee interviews one of their own, Michael Thomas Bass MP, proprietor of a minor brewery in Staffordshire :
In para 7200 he says they are locally popular in Surrey but tend to stay within the county, Bass had run trials and found that "East Kent" were "very superior" (but if price was ignored they would prefer Bavarians more). They bought 11,000cwt of hops the preceding year, the English at under £5, the Bavarians at 30% premium to that. Bavarians kept much better than Kent/Sussex. 8-10lb hops/quarter for "common beer", up to 18lb for "pale ale and every superior quality of beer"; "strong beers for export do not take so much". Estimated their 1856 exports as 700kbbl worth £1.5m at just under 5lb hops/bbl. Also talks about the export split : "East India" took "a certain quantity" but "nothing in comparison to [Australia]".

qq said...

Also worth comparing with hop descriptions here :

Ron Pattinson said...


I was sure I'd read something in that section about Farnham hops, but I can't find it now.

Unknown said...

Hi Ron ,
Do we know whether they were talking about Town of Country Farnham's ? , as far as I'm aware , the Town Farnham's were the more prized of the two .

Martyn Cornell said...

""nothing in comparison to [Australia]" - the export of beer from Britain to Oz in the 19th centuiry is underexplored. Much of it appears to have been No 3 quality Burton Ale, ie, about 1070-1880 gravity, and there was a considerable quantity sent out by Sheffkield brewers. But why?

qq said...

@Edd My guess is that it's a cow versus beef thing - Town/Country are the marketing/brewer names for what the farmers called whitebines and greenbines. That's a pure guess though. Or maybe terroir made that big a difference?

It's also worth noting the appendix :

The Surrey Excise Collection contained just 4 "hop planters" in 1847/8, although 1854 saw 110 reported before dropping back to 16/17. That compares to 110 in the Isle of Wight and ~1400 in Canterbury, Rochester and Sussex.

There's discussion of the financial stresses of growing in Surrey, presumably the high prices of the poor year of 1854 made it worth while to sell "officially" at market and pay duty, otherwise there was quite an area just being sold under the counter to local brewers.

Ron Pattinson said...


taking a look at a map, most of the Farnham district seems to have been in Hampshire rather than Surrey.

Ron Pattinson said...


also a huge amount of Scottish beer went to Australia. I think Peter Symons has looked into British imports a little, mostly in the context of how that influenced what Autralian brewers produced.

Unknown said...

Hi qq, thanks for that , I've always understood that the Town Farnham's were somewhere around Saaz territory in terms of alpha acids etc , with Country being somewhere in the Fuggle range ,

Unknown said...

Hi Ron ,
That was the Country Farnham's variety

qq said...

Thanks Ron, that starts to make sense - since they fell in different excise districts the Surrey "Farnhams" and the Hampshire "Farnhams" would have had to be sold separately, and the Hampshire farmer of the next article confirms that he was in the "Farnham country" district.

He seems to be on quite good clay soil, so it makes sense that he's growing a relatively high proportion of the more desirable whitebines (11 acres) versus greenbines (1 acre). But it's plausible that one less good soil the Hampshire growers grew less whitebine and more greenbine. Fuggles is from the greenbine family, so a greenbine-heavy blend would have been more Fuggles-like and a whitebine-heavy blend would have been more Saaz/Goldings-like, and this report confirms that hops were generally not sold as single varieties but as farm blends.

Unknown said...

Good few comments there , I've only seen the abbreviation of Cy , or CTY next to Farnham's in brewing records (yet!!), look forward to getting hold of some to compare usage though !!