Hogs Back celebrates the hops

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Hogs Back Brewery

Hogs Back Brewery blesses hop garden and continues ‘beating the bounds’ tradition

Hogs Back Brewery has held its annual Hop Blessing at its brewery and hop garden in Tongham to encourage a bountiful harvest.

Around 100 people gathered in the evening sunshine to enjoy the ceremony and the ‘beating the bounds’ walk, back as part of the event for a second year.

The Hop Blessing took place on Ascension Day (9th May), the day on which crop blessings were traditionally held for centuries. Rev Claire Holt, of St Paul’s Church in Tongham, blessed the crops and, with Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson, led guests on the walk around the 8.5-acre hop garden.

Image: Guests raise a glass at the Hogs Back Brewery Hop Blessing with managing director Rupert Thompson and Rev. Claire Holt 

Image: Rev. Claire Holt with Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson and brewery dog Basil

Blessings of crops was observed in rural communities and Hogs Back revived the tradition in 2014 when they planted their original hop garden over the road from the brewery and continued it when they relocated to the current, larger site. Currently, the 6,000 hop plants in the Hogs Back garden are climbing up strings, spurred by the recent rainfall, and the brewery is hoping for an ample crop to harvest in late August.

Rev Holt said: “Blessing the Hogs Back hop garden continues a tradition that would certainly have been part of the cycle of hop growing in Farnham for centuries. It gave me great joy to lead the prayers for the Hogs Back hop garden, the brewery, and all who work in them, for this year and long into the future.”

Thompson said: “The Hop Blessing is always a wonderful event, bringing together the local community to remember how important hop farming was to this region. We’re grateful, as ever, to Claire for blessing our hops and delighted to see so many people enjoying the ‘beating the bounds’ walk and a pint or two back at the brewery.”

The Hop Blessing has always been a free event but this year guests were asked to make a donation of £5 to British Heart Foundation, the brewery’s chosen charity for 2024. Hogs Back will be fundraising all year for BHF, especially at the Hop Harvest celebrations in September.

With the hops blessed, the Hogs Back team will now be tending the bines carefully until harvest. Three varieties are being grown: Fuggles – used in the brewer’s flagship Tongham TEA ale; English Cascade – used in its Hogstar lager; and Farnham White Bine – a local variety that Hogs Back revived from near-extinction.

Hogs Back’s Hop Harvest celebrations take place from 13th to 15th September, starting with a ‘Roots’ session featuring original music on the Friday, followed by a musical festival style event on the Saturday and a more family-friendly TEA Party on the Sunday. Tickets are available on the Hogs Back website.

Celebrate the Coronation with MajesTEA

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Hogs Back Brewery

Raise a glass and mark historic occasion with Hogs Back Brewery

Hogs Back Brewery, based in Tongham, is inviting beer drinkers to toast the Coronation of King Charles with a pint of MajesTEA, a premium cask ale that is definitely fit for a king.

Originally brewed for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022, MajesTEA is returning as a limited edition ale for another special royal occasion. It will be available to pubs, as well as in the Hogs Back tap room at the brewery in Tongham, in time for the Coronation celebrations in May. It will also be served at Farnham Beerex, taking place from 20-23 April at Farnham Maltings.

MajesTEA is a regal variation on Hogs Back’s award-winning flagship ale Tongham TEA, brewed with a little more fine English malt, and more Fuggles hops, grown in the hop garden less than 100 yards from the brewhouse. The full-bodied 4.5% traditional amber ale has a beautiful balance of malty, caramel notes and spicy hop flavours, while dry-hopping with Fuggles adds grassy and floral notes.

Hogs Back managing director Rupert Thompson said: “There’s a long history amongst British brewers of producing very special beers to mark Royal occasions, and we’re delighted that MajesTEA is continuing the tradition. It’s a very British beer, eminently drinkable, and certainly worth breaking out the bunting for.

“People will be gathering in pubs to celebrate the Coronation weekend, including the ceremony itself on Saturday 6th May and the extra Bank Holiday on Monday 8th May. Raising a glass of MajesTEA is a great way to toast King Charles, as well as to show support for Britain’s pubs and brewers, which are right up there alongside the Crown Jewels as an iconic and much-loved part of our national heritage.”

Hogs Back welcomes Little Ginger Swine

Karen Neville

Hogs Back Brewery

New addition to the low alcohol beer family for Surrey brewery

Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery is adding to its Little Swine family of low alcohol beers with the launch of flavoured craft ale Little Ginger Swine.

With an ABV of 0.5%, and spiced up with natural ginger extract after brewing, Little Ginger Swine is a full-bodied, flavoured pale ale, brewed with four speciality malts and three hop varieties including aromatic Cascade from Hogs Back’s own hop garden, and dry hopped with Mosaic for a robust citrus finish.

The addition of ginger gives a spicy kick which complements the crisp, smooth, ale, creating a memorable beer that punches well above its weight in flavour terms, despite its low ABV. Little Ginger Swine join Little Swine 2.8% and Little Swine 0.5% in Hogs Back’s expanding range of low alcohol beers.

Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson said: “We’re delighted to be expanding our Little Swine family. The strong consumer response to the existing Little Swine beers has shown that demand for low alcohol beers with plenty of character continues to grow.

“Little Ginger Swine has all the fiery character you’d expect from ginger with some to spare. We think that’s all part of its charm. It has a wonderful flavour that offers something different for the increasing number of beer drinkers enjoying low alcohol beers, making Little Ginger Swine a welcome new addition to the Little Swine family of beers.”

Little Ginger Swine 0.5% ABV is available in 500ml bottles with an RRP of £2.40.

Hogs Back Brewery offers vaccination help

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Hogs Back Brewery

Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery has stepped up to the national COVID-19 vaccination drive, offering its Hop Hangar as a drive-through facility for people in the area to receive the life-saving jab.

The brewery’s offer is currently being assessed by the Local Resilience Forum, the alliance of councils, police, NHS and other strategic partners which is co-ordinating the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Hogs Back’s Surrey and Hampshire heartland.

By opening up the large doors at either end of the Hangar for vaccine recipients to drive through, and housing the medical staff and chilled vaccines in the adjacent Tap Room bar, Hogs Back believes the brewery site in Tongham offers an ideal space for the vital programme.

Rupert Thompson (shown in main image), managing director of Hogs Back Brewery, says: “We’re offering the Hop Hangar as our contribution to the vaccination roll-out, and we’ll work with the Local Resilience Forum to ensure we can meet its requirements.

“Our brewery is in a location well served by main roads, and we believe it would be very effective as a drive through facility.

“We have fridges for the vaccines, and rooms for the medical and support staff.

“We can even offer those who’ve been vaccinated a cup of tea afterwards, and for the staff manning the site, we’ll also provide a free bottle of our very own TEA – our flagship Traditional English Ale – for them to enjoy once they’re off duty.

“With the whole of the UK now getting behind the programme, we’re keen to play our part and support our friends and neighbours.”

The Hogs Back Hop Hangar opened in the summer of 2020 as a facility to process the harvest from the Hop Garden adjacent to the brewery, and at other times operates as a bar and function space.

Read more about the local business at their website www.hogsback.co.uk