Lees, the district of Oldham, not the brewer, is 700 feet above sea level and is a bloody chilly place, believe me. Two overcoats colder than Manchester as they say up here. Not the place to grow hops then you'd likely say? Well no, but my CAMRA mate and Treasurer for our CAMRA branch, Clive, an Oldham lad through and through, poo poos such trifling concerns as huge amounts of rainfall, wind and cold. He grows hops!
Last night I was at the launch of a new beer brewed by Peter Percival, Head Brewer and co-owner of Greenfield Brewery. Held at Oldham's premier free house, the Ashton Arms, the new beer, Gardener's Hop included Clive's very own Lees grown hops. It was very pale, using only pale ale malt and was early hopped with Whitbread Goldings Variety and late hopped with Clive's locally produced hops, which he reckons are probably fuggles. I did get a chance to inspect one cone. It was very spicy and aromatic and while this didn't come through as strongly in the finished beer, it was nonetheless a splendid and unusual effort. Greenfield Brewery’s Head Brewer, Pete Percival, said: “Clive’s hops are really good. We have never used fresh hops in our brews before — they have always been dried varieties. But my business partner and I were so impressed with the quality and flavour of Clive’s, we decided to give them a go.”
In our CAMRA branch Clive is nicknamed "Hoppy" such is his love for humulus lupulus. He is a keen home brewer and modestly pleased with his efforts. Said Clive:“I have always loved good beer and I started growing the hops really as just a whim. I used them in my home-brew ales. Originally I purchased some hops from Kent but, to be honest, I never thought they would ever grow strong enough in be used in a commercial brew".
The hops have produced more than 1,000 pints of bitter, with an alcohol by volume of 4.2 per cent to give a pleasing aromatic flavour.
For the tickers out there the beer will be available at the forthcoming Bury Beer Festival to be held on 14th and 15th November and at the well known Shovels Beer Festival on the Fylde.
The top picture shows Clive with Peter Percival of Greenfield Brewery