British Hops Tea Towel

Beer Lover’s Gift Ideas for Christmas

Stuck for beer lover’s gift ideas for Christmas.  We have our second run of the British Hops tea towels which means we can pass on the lower price of £9 each or £24.00 for a pack of 3.   If you want a little stocking filler for the beer lover or home brewer in your life, this could be ideal, just right to hang up in the brewing room,  shed or polish your glasses.  Wrap up that bottle of beer to make it an even more special gift. Sustainable wrapping paper, nothing to throw away! They are 100% cotton, printed and made in UK and even better a donation from each sale goes to British Hop Research. 

British Hops Tea towel

100gm vac packed hops

British Hops Tea Towel

Other beer lover’s gift ideas for Christmas are our of course our home grown hops.  Available direct from the farm, in 1Kg blocks, these vacuum packed blocks are ideal for the keen home-brewer or a brewing group who wish to share.   So hurry if you want one of these, they offer great value and we only have few left.  We also have a 500gm pack option available in a few varieties, if you have a favourite hop variety then these too offer better value. Then of course there are the 100gm vacuum packs perfect for popping in a freezer ready for 2019.

Remember this year our shop closes on 21st December for the Christmas break so if you are wanting to brew over the Christmas holiday then do please order in good time.   

  British Hops Tea Towel

Bushel of Hops Shop is Open With 2018 Hops 

Bushel of Hops Shop is Open With 2018 Hops 

The Bushel of Hops shop is open with 2018 hops. First a really big thank you to everyone who has purchased hops; your custom is truly appreciated. Some varieties are selling out fast, so please be quick if there is one you particularly wish to brew with.loading dung

A brief follow up to my September post on the website. That was written right at end of picking, yields were generally lower than

average, which was expected but nevertheless disappointing. Yes it was a testing growing year, especially with very young plants in the ground and no irrigation, they did not thrive but did not die either.  But the sunshine and dry weather seems to have put condition into the mature hops, which have been very sticky to package.   As always the wonderful scents at packaging are a very pleasant perk of the job. As farmers we are philosophical about the weather, each year brings something different, it’s pointless stressing about something you can not do anything about.  However, we are also pragmatic so have already take positive action towards next year’s crop.   


It looks as if climate change is a reality, so in September, straight after hop picking we gave some well deserved TLC to the young hops by spreading well rotted manure on the two hop gardens with the young plants in.

I hesitate to call it even well rotted manure because it is so well rotted it is now a soil conditioner, no longer dung!  It is  almost black, a crumbly dark Bourneville  plain chocolate brown, with an superabundance of worms and no dung smell whatsoever.  This is for improving the soil by adding more humus, feeding the worms of course and as a mulch to help protect the roots as well as preserve the soil moisture content in any future prolonged dry spell.   It is not for nutrients that may or may not be an unintended secondary benefit.  For feeding the hops I will use a good quality fertiliser during the growing season as usual. which will be applied as normal next year.

When the rain came the hills shot lots of new very fine shoots with leaves, I am hoping these leaves gave just a little bit back to the plant and any worm action with the mulch helped the roots.   With the young plants this year every little helps and even if it did not do much good, it made me feel better by doing something positive!  I have yet to cut off the lower bines or ‘straps’ left after harvest.   I looked this morning and the sap has now gone, so I will do that in the next fortnight, but again it felt kinder to leave them to sear right back before cutting them off.    

So now the Bushel of Hops shop is open with 2018 hops.  We have moved on positively planning for next year and already looking forward to spring and seeing new shoots appear. 

Old Ferguson dung spreader in action

original gravity magazine

Original Gravity Magazine

I am tickled pink and honoured to be included in the new issue of Original Gravity Magazine.  This fantastic  magazine has articles by prominent beer writers, so you can keep informed on all that’s brewing.  And better still you can read it free here.

Our Bushel of Hops shop will be reopening very soon with a short update of our 2018 hop harvest.

British Hops T-Towel

British Hops T-Towel

The British Hops T-Towel is now available.


British Hops T-Towel

Love craft beer, love British hops, or simply looking for a  gift or a little something unusual  for the home-brewer in your life?  Are you a micro-pub selling craft beers which use lots of British hops?  Could this be the t-towel for polishing up your glasses? Then look no further AND you can help the British Hop industry too!

Designed by Dorothy of A Bushel of Hops, The British Hops T-Towel names 94 British hop varieties…. but better than that…. £1 from the sale of each t-towel will be donated to support the research work done by Wye Hops Ltd on behalf of the whole British hop industry.

For further information about their work visit

The British Hops T-Towel is available in pale green, white or old linen and all have black text.

British Hops T-Towel

They are designed, printed and made in England and are 100% cotton.

Measurements are – 18inches x 29 inches approx or 41cms x 73cms

For prices please go to our Hop Gift shop

Trade enquires welcome, minimum order of 15,  contact us for prices and postage.

A Bushel of Hops would like to  thank  Peter Darby not only for his dedication to British Hop research, but his vast knowledge of British Hops which he is so willing to share.  Importantly for his support of the small brewer, home-brew groups and the little grower.  This t-towel is in acknowledgement and gratitude for his support.

British Hops T-Towel

2018 Hop Crop Update

2018 Hop Crop Update is Thumbs Down

2018 Hop crop update.  The hops did not like the extreme hot weather and dry conditions this year, nothing more to be said.

The old rhyme –    ’till St James’ day be done and gone, there may be hops there may be none’
has well and truly been proved correct this year. The long awaited rain finally arrived days after St James’ day and the hop crop is 2018 hop crop updatewell down this year. There is another old saying, here in Sussex anyway, ‘You can see them but they’re not there’! It may seem like silly Sussex logic, but again it has been proven true this year.

Same amount of work,  the same growing costs and identical harvest costs but generally 25-35% down on normal expected yields.  Probably this will be the story of the year for all UK growers.  We have drawn a line under this year and now we move forward. Goodbye to Hop harvest 2018!

So home brewers, more than ever, get your orders in early for any special hop varieties you want this year. Our shop will be open mid-October when I have completed the packaging into 100gm vacuum bags.

On a more upbeat note we have some exciting news to share later in the week!


hop growers A-Z

Hop Grower’s Alphabet

Our Hop Grower’s Alphabet is over on Instagram.  You might like to see it, if so click on the floating bottle top on this page it will take you directly there.  Alternately you can Google @abushelofhops on Instagram. The relevant posts started on 19th May and went through to 22nd June.  Below is the list of what was included in our Hop Growers A-Z.  It was certainly a fun thing to do and hopefully you will enjoy reading through it.

  • A is for Aerial and Alpha Acid. 
  • B is for bushel baskets, bines, besoms and beer.
  •  C is for cowl, crow’s nest and cooling floor
  • D is for dawn, drawing, Dr Peter Darby and Drying the hops naturally. Bit of a mixed bag!
  • E is EKG. East Kent Goldings are one of Britain’s most well known hop varieties and also Enhancing Habitats.
  • F is for Fuggles, fabric, fresh and fragrance.
  • G is for grower, gardens and goad used for stringing.
  • H is for Hops, Handwork and Home brewing.
  • J is for January and jam
  • K is for kerb and knapweed.
  • L is for Lifter Cloths. 
  • M is for male hop , microbreweries, micro pubs, malt and misty hop picking mornings.
  • N is for November, needle and niche.
  • I is for Inspiration, Instagram and Iron.
  • P is for pockets, poles, press and pokes.
  • Q is for quilt. 
  • R is for return customers, roundel and Rotobank.  
  • S is today’s alphabet letter, so many it’s hard to choose. Scuppett, stencils and swap. The others? a sett, shoots, stringing, strap, screw-pegs, and stilts.
  • T for today’s alphabet is for twiddling stick, trailer, and also twiddling, training and tying. T is for hop Toile fabric which featrues a hop twiddler in action.       
  • U is for unseeded, underground and unicorn.             V is for Varieties, Verandah and Vermin.
  • W is for Wim-Wom, Wellies and Wilderness.
  • X is for ‘X marks the spot’
  • Y is for Yellow Rattle, Yards and Yeast
  • Z the last letter of my hop grower’s alphabet and until the night before last had me flummoxed! Z is for Zenith, Zymotic and the onomatopoeia for sleep 💤 
renovated oast cowl

Cowls on Oast Houses

Cowls on oast houses are a significant part of the building. They are there for a purpose, and on any working oast house they are not there simply to look good as the finishing touch to the roundel. They serve a practical purpose, much more than just the cherry on the cake.  Below are Sussex Cowls.

Oast houses, like giant chimneys, are built for draughts and cowls on oast houses are a significant part of the building to assist with these draughts. The slightest breeze will catch the arm of the cowl, turning it around until it’s back is set against the wind, which in turn creates a slight vacuum. This vacuum helps draw the air up from inside the kiln, up through the bed of hops and in turn through the entire building. The amount of draught can be regulated by opening and closing different doors, it is discharged via the cowl outside of the building. If hops are being dried this air takes the reek, or moisture, out with it. For airflow to pass through a bed of hops a kiln floor is slatted, making a working oast house is full of shadows. Below is a Hereford Cowl and right an inset kiln with a sussex cowl.



This natural air flow has another advantage by keeping the downstairs of an oast house cool. Small windows limit most of the natural lighting coming in, leaving this cool, twilight area of the lower chamber perfect for storage. The two floors of a traditional oast house are used for different purposes, whilst downstairs is for storing pockets, upstairs is used for cooling the dried hops straight from the kiln. Up here the atmosphere is a little warmer, gentler and softer. Once cooled slightly, the hops are pressed into pockets which drop down from the press hole onto the lower ground level for marking, weighing and recording before being stood upright for storage. From here they will eventually be loaded to leave the farm. Growers send their crop off to a hop factor, merchant or sometimes direct to a brewery.

renovated oast cowlCowls on oast houses naturally need occasional maintenance. General building upkeep of an oast house is done by the individual hop grower but any work on a traditional cowl is a job requiring a specialist firm. Dude and Arnette  are well known for their cowl building skills, whether it is building new ones or repairing old ones. Often a cowl will need to be removed to have this work done.

One of my favourite oast houses is the one at Great Dixter, a beautiful building with its 3 inset kilns

cowls on oast houses


However, times have certainly changed for the majority of these most iconic of farm buildings. When they are converted the cowls are only for decoration, draughts definitely aren’t needed then!

Cowls on oast houses vary in design too. Like local dialects each hop county has it’s own variation of the cowl. There are different styles for Kent, Sussex, Norfolk, Hereford and Worcester. Occasionally exactly as in real life, you will find the odd maverick, a one off true only to itself!


Normally if there are two cowls they will face the same way, as they turn with the prevailing wind. Occasionally cowls will face each other which is known as ‘bulling’. Country lore says that this foretells a change in the weather.

Below is another cowl, a malting one perhaps?


oast house stained glass window

Oast House is a Quirky Building

An oast house is a quirky building. Their unique image is used by many landscape painters and advertising agents, the iconic white cowls instantly recognisable, quintessentially representing hop growing and certainly oast houses seem to be the image preferred to symbolise Kent.

Oast houses appear to play hide and seek, they coyly peek out from behind hills, their cowls periscope up through wooded vistas. They always seem to remain half hidden, they are never brash buildings. In reality traditional oast houses used for drying hops are almost extinct, working examples are an endangered species. As farmers went out of hop production most of these idiosyncratic buildings have been converted into residential houses or offices, so they are preserved which is better than falling into decay. It is also understandable for a another very practical reason, they are only used at harvest for a few short weeks each year and the rest of the time they cannot be used for longterm storage or for other farm enterprises easily.Completely clear, clean space is instantly required at harvest.

For most hop growers, modern buildings have replaced these traditional oast houses and more often than not the picking and drying is all done on the same concrete floor.Nowadays air can be forced and pushed by mechanical means.The end result is the same, it is undeniably efficient, but these modern buildings are not alive to the elements in the same way.

Below hops being unloaded from a kiln onto the cooling floor in an oast’s dim interior.However, when used as originally intended they come into their own, proving that a traditional oast house is a quirky building but it makes a fascinating workplace as well. I have never worked in either a windmill or watermill, but along with oasts all three harness a natural element, so there is of course an inherent day to day change as wind or water ebbs and flows. Oasts are built for air flow, they breath, and as such they are different to any other farm building. How many other buildings are built to produce as many possible ways to produce a draught? Once converted these draughts are naturally stopped and an oast looses something vital. Kiln floors are slatted so all these shadows are lost too.

oasthouse is a quirky building

Air flow is essential for drying hops but warmth is also needed, the buildings architecture is designed to be basically a giant chimney. It is the airflow to warmth ratio that determines the depth and amount of hops that can be dried at any one time. By opening doors or windows and adjusting slides on the kiln itself these drafts are adjusted and manipulated. Heat is kept to a minimum to preserve the natural oils in the hop cones. Hops are dried down to a moisture content of between 10% – 12% which is necessary to remove enough moisture to prevent them going fusty when stored. Over years floorboards become caked with pollen in front of a hop press.

The hop dryer is master in the oast house at harvest time and the art of a good hop dryer is to preserve the hops by retainingas much moisture as possible. Hops are sold by weight so growers want to keep as much as moisture in as possible but also dry enough to preserve the crop.Therefore on the kiln the aim is to preserve any load of hops, it is not to be dried right out or the hops would weigh almost nothing. A good hop dryer has to earn his key position over a long period and prove himself.He has to understand the foibles of this and how his own oast house is a quirky building even warranting a stained glass window.

UK Chinook Hops - A Bushel of Hops Spring Draw Prize

Winner of our Spring Hop Draw

We are delighted to announce the winner of our Spring Hop Draw is Sean B.   Congratulations Sean and you will be receiving an email shortly.    We had 32 entries, thank you so much to everyone who took the time to enter.

Meanwhile the bank holiday weather has been amazing, perfect for enjoying a cold beer and still time to enjoy the bluebells.

bluebell woods


training hops

It’s Twiddling Time for British Hop Growers

Right now it’s twiddling time for British hop growers and many hands make light work.  This is always true of any seasonal work in a hop garden, but especially when training hops the first time around.   training hops

It can be quite daunting to sit in the middle of a hop garden on your own surrounded by a sea of plants, all needing to be ‘firsted’ immediately.  There is an optimum time to twiddle the hops and if the weather warms with perfect damp conditions they can quickly get out of hand, quite literally. training hops This week some of the varieties have been at that perfect stage.  Like Goldilocks’s porridge they were not too short and not too long but just right.

training hops

training hops - before

training hops

A twiddler’s eye view of a hop before and after twiddling.  Depending on the variety we put up between 4 – 8 bines.  The variety shown is Admiral,  a high alpha hop with a clean marmalade aroma.
training hops - after

Once the correct number of bines have been put up the strings, excess bines are pulled out and left beside the hop hill.  We try to pull the whole bine off at ground level, I find two hands at the base of the shoot works best.  If the shoots are only broken off, then the piece left will send out fresh shoots from each leaf axil, making even more work next time around at seconding.


hop trainingVery little equipment is needed, this week just hats, gloves and stools.  Sunny, warm days spent outdoors with blue skies and good company, twiddling time is a pleasure.

Below is an area of hops all firsted, you can see the little piles of unwanted shoots left beside the hop hills.


hops firsted