British Hop Awards 2017

Kent hop growers Hukins Hops have been named the overall winner of the British Hop Awards for 2017, as the results of the 74th Institute of Brewing & Distilling’s (IBD) annual competition were announced at an awards ceremony at Hook Norton Brewery on 9th February.

Ross and Peter Hukins’ sample of Bullion came out on top of the 196 entries from 29 varieties, to be crowned as champion British hop of 2017. The sample was chosen by the judges for its complex and outstanding aroma, which encompassed both floral and tropical notes over a deep base of earthy spice. In addition to the winning certificate, Hukins Hops were presented with a cheque for £100, which they most kindly donated to the charity Bloodwise.

Jerry Avis, Chief Executive of the IBD, said, “The British hop competition continues to grow, attracting a record number of entries and varieties this year. This highlights the increasing diversity of the British hop industry and has shown that it can respond to the needs of both traditional and craft brewers.”

“British hop growers continue to produce outstanding crops, which deserve the recognition that the British Hop Awards affords them. Newly developed British varieties such as Jester and Boadicea are seeing demand from customers worldwide, while traditional varieties continue to be sought after due to their uniquely refined brewing qualities.”

“This year it is particularly encouraging to see one of the new generation of hop growers emerge as overall champion, demonstrating that the continuing tradition of great British hop growing has a vibrant and exciting future.”

“We were, once again, delighted by the quantity and quality of samples submitted, appreciative of the continued support of so many hop growers and growing groups for this long-standing competition and particularly grateful to this year’s host, James Clarke and his team at Hook Norton Brewery.”

Ross Hukins of Hukins Hops, Haffenden Farms commented, “In such a great growing year for British Hops, showcasing great quality, we were delighted our sample was judged the overall winner. A lovely touch for my father, Peter, whose idea it was to re-introduce Bullion to the farm. It was one of my Grandfathers favourite hops who won the IBD competition with it in 1960, so 57 crops later it was great to see it recognised again.”

Judging of the competition took place in November, where the judging panel drew on their knowledge and experience to assess the hops on a number of criteria such as quality and intensity of aroma and trueness to variety type – before giving the top awards to the hops they would most want to use in brewing their own beers.

Judges commented that the hops submitted were of a high quality, and further noted that:

The overall quality this year was exceptional, making judging difficult and requiring a number of elimination rounds to choose the class winners.
Presentation was excellent, showing good pick quality and little to no evidence of disease or pests.
It was encouraging to see so many entries of newer varieties, showcasing the great range of aromas possible from British hops.

The judging process produces winners in five classes before the overall winner, these were:

Le May Cup for best sample of Goldings – Winner: Coombe Jones

Hop Merchants Cup for best sample of hops (from each category) bought on the basis of their aroma – Winners (in three aroma categories): Hukins Hops (Bullion); Hukins Hops (Challenger); C W L Wilson (Pilgrim)

Brewers Cup for best sample of High Alpha content hops – Winner: C R & G Daws (Admiral)

Wigan Cup: for best sample of Fuggle – Winner: J W Spilsbury & Co

Botanix Cup for best sample of Dwarf/Hedgerow variety – Winner: C & R Edmed (First Gold)

Grower’s Challenge Bowl awarded for the best sample of new English variety – Winner: M & L Andrews (6106 – an un-named variety as yet)