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Brewery and gardening enthusiasts team up to produce ‘true taste of Norfolk’ ale

PUBLISHED: 11:50 08 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:15 10 October 2018

David and Rachel Holliday of the Norfolk Brewhouse, which has teamed up with Sheringham Horticultural Society to grow hops for a new, local ale. Photo: supplied

David and Rachel Holliday of the Norfolk Brewhouse, which has teamed up with Sheringham Horticultural Society to grow hops for a new, local ale. Photo: supplied

Rae Shirley

A north Norfolk brewery has teamed up with a group of gardening enthusiasts to produce a “truly local” ale.

Sheringham Horticlutural Members; Ian Hudson, Paddy Corden, Ralph Smith, Bob Wilkinson and Tony Chadwick, pictured with David Holliday of The Norfolk Brewhouse. Picture: Norfolk BrewhouseSheringham Horticlutural Members; Ian Hudson, Paddy Corden, Ralph Smith, Bob Wilkinson and Tony Chadwick, pictured with David Holliday of The Norfolk Brewhouse. Picture: Norfolk Brewhouse

When David Holliday, who runs the Norfolk Brewhouse with his wife Rachel, gave a talk to Sheringham Horticultural Society expressing his concern over the demise of UK hop farms and the shortage of Norfolk-grown hops, the group came up with a plan to help.

“The Sheringham guys responded brilliantly to my rallying cry and decided to see if they could combine their hobby with bringing the community together,” Mr Holliday said.

After chatting to hop specialists, society members planted four traditional British varieties of hops in a field they had cleared near Beeston Regis allotments and in the second year of planting, there was a big enough harvest to create a limited edition brew of just 38 casks of beer with a unique, fresh taste.

“The plan was simple,” Mr Holliday explained, “The hops were to be harvested and driven back to the brewery within one hour of picking; by using hops as fresh as this, we aimed to get a beer bursting with fresh flavours.”

While Mr Holliday and brewer Bruce Ash made preparations back at the brewery in Hindringham, a team of Norfolk Brewhouse staff members drove to the field to harvest the hops.

Named Moon Gazer Norfolk Fresh Hop, the beer was brewed using Norfolk-grown malting barley.

“We of course used locally-grown Maris Otter malt, but we mostly looked for flavour from the hops,” Mr Holliday explained.

Sheringham Horticultural Society chairman Ian Hudson, who worked with fellow society members Paddy Corden, Ralph Smith, Bob Wilkinson, Kevin Coleman and Tony Chadwick, said growing the hops had been a great experience for the group, who plan to continue working with the brewery.

“We have learned a lot along the way,” he added. “The challenge this summer was keeping the crops watered enough, but we got a good crop in the end and it’s been a great community effort which we hope will become a showpiece for Sheringham in years to come.”

Mr Holliday said the beer, which is available in pubs across the county, was selling fast.

“This beer truly is a taste of Norfolk,” he added.

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