Nestled in the heart of the picturesque Sussex/Kent border countryside, Cellar Head Brewery stands as a testament to the region's long-standing brewing heritage.
As we sip our pints and indulge in the delightful aromas, it is only fitting to delve into the history that has shaped this unique brewing culture.
In this blog, we embark on a journey through time to uncover the captivating story of Kent hops and the iconic oast houses that have become synonymous with this fertile land.
Kent Hops: The Foundation of Flavour
Kent, often referred to as the "Garden of England," has earned a well-deserved reputation for its rich agricultural bounty. At the heart of this prosperity lies the cultivation of hops, a vital ingredient in the brewing process. The history of Kent hops dates back centuries, with the region's fertile soil and temperate climate providing the perfect conditions for their growth.
The origins of hop cultivation in Kent can be traced back to the 16th century when Dutch refugees brought their expertise in hop growing.
Recognising the land's potential, local farmers began embracing this new crop, transforming the Kentish landscape into a sea of lush hop gardens. The unique terroir of the region, coupled with diligent farming practices, resulted in hops with distinctive flavours and aromas coveted by brewers far and wide.
Oast Houses: Architectural Gems
A defining feature of the Kentish countryside is the charming oast houses that dot the landscape. These iconic structures, with their conical roofs and white-washed walls, are a testament to the centuries-old tradition of hop drying. The design of the oast houses evolved over time, adapting to the changing needs of the brewing industry.
Originally, oast houses comprised two buildings—an oast and a kiln. The freshly harvested hops were spread out on large drying floors in the oast, while the kiln, fueled by wood or coal, provided the necessary heat to dry the hops. The distinctive conical roofs, known as cowls, were designed to create a draft that aided in the drying process.
As the demand for Kent hops grew, more efficient methods of drying were introduced. The traditional oast houses evolved into circular structures, with the central kiln serving multiple drying floors.
These circular kilns allowed for greater capacity, facilitating the drying of larger quantities of hops. Although modern technology has made oast houses obsolete in hop processing, they remain integral to Kent's cultural landscape.
Cellar Head Brewery: Carrying the Torch
Fast forward to the present day, and Cellar Head Brewery is one of the torchbearers of Kent's brewing legacy. Nestled amidst the rolling hills and verdant hop gardens, our microbrewery pays homage to the region's rich history while embracing modern brewing techniques.
Cellar Head Brewery produces a range of beers that showcase the flavours and aromas unique to Kent using locally sourced hops.
Our taproom serves as a meeting point for enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike, allowing them to experience firsthand the craftsmanship and passion that goes into each pint.
The commitment to quality and the utilisation of Kent hops are at the core of brewing philosophy, bridging the gap between tradition and innovation.
To conclude our journey through the history of Kent hops and the iconic oast houses, we are reminded of the symbiotic relationship between the land, the farmers, and the brewers.
Kent's fertile soil and favourable climate have nurtured the growth of hops for centuries, creating a brewing culture steeped in tradition and flavour.
With their timeless charm, the oast houses stand as a testament to the region's brewing heritage. While their role in hop processing has evolved, their presence in the landscape is a constant reminder of the past, with most of these beautiful buildings now converted into stunning family homes.
Through the likes of Cellar Head Brewery, the legacy of Kent Hops lives on. With each sip, we taste the essence of the land and the dedication of the brewers who strive to preserve and innovate, ensuring that the story of Kent Hops continues to be written for generations to come.