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7th May 2019

On Your Farm starring role for Hogs Back Brewery

On Your Farm presenter Sarah Swadling with Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson

The Hogs Back Brewery hop garden in Tongham, Surrey, is to be the star of the show on BBC Radio 4’s On Your Farm programme later this month.

The edition of the popular long-running farming show to be broadcast on 19 May, focuses on the brewery’s successful move to a new, larger hop garden and plans to build a hop kiln on its Manor Farm site, as well as the revival of the Farnham White Bine hop variety.

On Your Farm presenter Sarah Swadling spent a day at the brewery and hop farm, where she spoke to Hogs Back managing director Rupert Thompson, hop garden manager Matthew King, and head brewer Miles Chesterman.

Swadling also heard from members of the Tongham TEA Club, who had been drafted in for the all-important Hop Twiddling process, which helps ensure the hop shoots grow strongly up the garden’s network of strings. TEA Club member Ted Block said: “Sarah was interested that we’re all volunteers working for the love of it – as well a couple of beers – but it’s great to get out in the open, as well as to feel that we’re part of the story of our local brewer.”

Thompson said, “We were delighted to welcome Sarah and On Your Farm to the brewery and hop garden. Hogs Back is one of a growing number of ‘farm brewers’ in the UK, with a rural, farming heritage that gives them a deep understanding of the ingredients used in brewing.

“We talked to Sarah about our decision to carefully transplant the hop plants from the original garden to the new site to ensure continuity, as well as our revival of the Farnham White Bine, which was once highly prized by brewers, but declined at the start of the last century. These are great farming stories which we’re sure will appeal to the programme’s audience.”

Hogs Back’s new hop garden occupies 8.5 acres of prime farmland on Manor Farm, where the brewery was founded 27 years ago. With anchors, posts and several miles of hop wire in place, 2,000 hop plants were lifted from the old garden and a further 4,000 new ones planted. Three varieties grown on the new site will be harvested this summer: Fuggles, Cascade and Farnham White Bine.

Hogs Back’s original hop garden featured in the BBC TV Countryfile programme in 2016.

The episode of On Your Farm recorded in the hop garden and brewery will be broadcast at 6.35am on Sunday 19 May, and will also be available on BBC Sounds.


Notes to editors

  • Hogs Back Brewery was founded in 1992 in Tongham, in the heart of the traditional Surrey hop growing area.
  • Its flagship brand TEA, or Traditional English Ale, is one of the leading regional ales in the South East. The first beer brewed by Hogs Back in 1992, TEA has won multiple awards including runner-up in CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain in 2000. Distribution of TEA is currently at an all-time high.
  • The Hogs Back Brewery range includes a number of award-winning draught and bottled beers. Earlier this year, Hogs Back launched three new keg beers: Hog IPA, Unfiltered TEA – an unfiltered version of the flagship ale, served cold – and Little Swine, a 2.5% ABV blonde beer, as well as redesigning its Hogstar lager. Unfiltered TEA has already won its first accolade, a Regional Gold medal from the Society of Independent Brewers.
  • Hogs Back planted a hop garden adjacent to its brewery in 2014, growing three hop varieties: Fuggles – used in its flagship TEA ale; Cascade – used in Hogstar lager; and Farnham White Bine, used in a limited-edition bottled beer of the same name.
  • Hogs Back has recently relocated its hop garden and announced plans to build a hop kiln and warehouse, as part of a £700,000 investment. At 8.5 acres, the new hop garden is nearly three times the size of the previous one and when fully mature will provide 50% of Hogs Back’s hops.
  • The new kiln will be used to dry Hogs Back’s hops for around one month a year. For the rest of the year, it will serve as an event space and visitor centre, educating people about the local hop farming industry which Hogs Back is helping to revive.
  • Siting the kiln and warehouse close to the hop garden means hops can be dried immediately after picking and will be packed within 24 hours using state-of-the-art vacuum packing technology to capture the hops’ freshness.

Issued on behalf of:    Hogs Back Brewery

Further information:

Ros Shiel: / 07841 694137

John Porter: / 07734 054389