A tale of two hops

This Saturday a brand new Kentish Town beer is unveiled at microbrewery pub The Bull in Highgate. And it’s grown by locals

It's easy and it makes you happy: grow your own beer. Pic: TKT
It’s easy to grow and it makes Debbie Bourne happy: beer. Pic: TKT
Take two hops: the first is grown in the US, dried, imported into the UK, and distributed to a factory who brew and deliver it to a boozer near you. Your beer is travelling a journey of thousands of miles.

The second? Why, it’s grown by eighty local folk around NW5, from young Kentishtowners through to grannies (yes, beer-growing grannies!). The gang were all given a bare-rooted Prima Donna dwarf hop plant back in March this year by our friends at Transition Kentish Town.

They planted it in an assortment of pots, balconies, gardens (and welly boots, for all we know), watching their little scrawny plant grow and twine its way up round trellises, drainpipes and washing lines to form beautiful little green hop cones in August. Then, three weeks ago, they harvested their cones and delivered them to local micro-brewery The Bull in Highgate.

Fast forward to Saturday Oct 4, and the harvest of just under nine kilos of fresh green hops will have been brewed into 500 pints of the very first local Transition tipple: the Kentish Town Keg the first ever real K-Town grown beer, ABV 4.5. And you can try it yourself.

But, it’s not just the thousands of miles that differentiate our story of two hops, what about the taste? Our very own Keg is harvested and put into brew within 24 hours.

“It’s all down to the lupulin,” Rich White, the Bull’s brewer, tells us. Lupulin, I hear you ask? It’s the essential oil in a hop, extracted to create the beer’s flavour. “A green hop beer will have a fresher taste, as the hops used will contain more of the oils that are lost when hops are dried.”

So, the moral of our story: local is good; and local beer even better. Or, at least, judge for yourself this weekend.

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Taste the Kentish Town Keg ths Saturday (6-8pm) at the Bull, 13 North Hill, Highgate, London N6 4AB. If you would like to become a Transition Kentish Town hop grower for 2015, head here.

Debbie Bourne runs a local edible landscaping company and is author of a novel, The High-Heeled Gardener, out this autumn.

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