The competition was held on 21 November 2018 at the brand new Marden Sports Club and the award is sponsored by BTF Partnership and Lupofresh.

The Garden of England is famous for its hop growing heritage and there is now a resurgence in hop growing to support Kent, British and International breweries alike. The rise and rise of ‘craft’ beer and micro-breweries is once again fuelling demand for Kent’s classic hops. This is the first time hop growing has been recognised as part of the Taste of Kent Awards.

Alan Unwin of Wealden Hops and one of the three judges comments: “We judge the hop samples in a blind judging and we are essentially judging how the hops look, the density of the aroma and if the whole flower cone is there. This combination is what you want to put into your beer when you are brewing.”

“This year has been one of the better years for growers as there has been less disease which the older varieties are more prone to. Yield has been slightly down, but the quality is high. 2017 was a bumper year for growers here in Kent as it rained at the right time of year, whereas 2018 has been a bit too hot and dry in comparison. Growers here in Kent are increasingly growing the newer varieties, as they are more disease resistant, but there is a big push towards getting the right aroma.”

The Taste of Kent Awards are organised by Produced in Kent and showcase the very best products and food and drink businesses in Kent. Stephanie Durling, manager of Produced in Kent said: “Kent is synonymous with hop growing and we are delighted to have worked with the Kent Hop Show organisers to create this brand new category. There is a huge interest in brewing here in Kent and we hope to taste some of these fine hops in Kentish beers over the coming year.”

Ross Hukins of Hukins Hops said: “We are delighted to be the first winners of this new Taste of Kent award and we would like to thank all the team at Hukins Hops for their efforts. We hope this new award will help to raise the profile of Kent Hops amongst the ever growing number of Kent based brewers. A big thank you to the sponsors for making this possible.”

You can find out more about hop growing, beers and micro breweries in Produced in Kent’s free guide

Pictured: Ross Hukins of Hukins Hops presented by Richard Thomas of BTF Partnership