Tag Archives: beer

Success Leads to Major Investment in New Cutting-Edge Equipment

Rather excitingly, we have recently invested over £100,000 into our facilities on the back of customer feedback and encouragement, purchasing a much sought after hop pellet mill.

Since launching last year, business has boomed due to the popularity of not just home grown, locally sourced hops but also the unique aromas that come from our hops which are grown in the rich, red, Herefordshire soil.

We have been asked a lot by customers to provide pelleted hops alongside our whole leaf offerings. Being a business which prides itself on its care for customers, we readily invested in the new pellet mill which was just installed at our farm in Bromyard, just outside the Malvern Hills in Herefordshire.

“Our main goal is to serve the needs of brewers, so we are building relationships with them and trading in ways that benefit both parties.” says Sales Manager, Sebastian Nielsen, “that means selling hops directly and sourcing interesting and unique varieties, which we can do thanks to our farm relationships across the globe. When customers started asking for our hops in pellet form, we took the decision to seriously consider the request.”

So last month, we decided to take the plunge and made a 6 figure investment into a state of the art, low-temperature pellet processing facility. It was fundamental to us that no corners were cut on this project, so the equipment we sourced had to be strictly top of the line.

Brook House hops going in to the pellet mill to be transformed into pellets

Brook House hops going in to the pellet mill to be transformed into pellets

Owner Will Kirby notes: “the key to the pellet creation process is cooling and making sure the pellets do not reach high temperatures, as this would mean they lose their vitality, flavour and aroma. Brewers want the freshest hops and we wanted a solution which gave us pellets but maintained that Brook House freshness.

“Happily, we have achieved that with this investment! The pellets crumble beautifully when rubbed in your hand but are not so soft that they can’t withhold storage, handling and transportation activity. Our pellets also go straight into a cold store after being nitrogen flushed and vacuum sealed, where they are stored between 0-5 centigrade to maintain freshness. Quality is so important to us and we think we have invested in the perfect solution.”

Farm Worker Robert Demczuk with the laser temperature gun, monitoring temperatures

Farm Worker Robert Demczuk with the laser temperature gun, monitoring temperatures

After a week of setting up the equipment and testing the process, the team are now in full production. Pellets are going through industry leading processing procedures at low temperatures and then going straight to the cold store.

“This investment symbolises our commitment to quality” Sebastian adds, “brewers want high-quality pellets that dissolve properly in their brewing process. This is a state of the art pellet mill and our goal is to make the best pellets on the market.”

Fresh Brook House Hops Pellets

In the spirit of collaboration, we initially sent out samples to a few select few customers who volunteered to help them get the consistency spot on, now they are available for sale on our online shop and via their sales team.

Visit the shop today!

The Story of Brook House Hops

As a team running a hop farm, we have a surprising amount of career history between us in stockbroking, investments, tech start-ups and enterprise software. So where did the hop journey begin?

The Career Change into Hops

First things first: there’s Will. Will is our owner and the farmer at Brook House Farm. Will used to buy and sell shares, then he started investing in tech-focused start-up businesses. After a while doing this, he decided he wanted a change for his family, so he moved to Brook House Farm in Herefordshire – a thriving fruit farm – in 2015.

Will and his family outside their home at Brook House Farm

Will and his family outside their home at Brook House Farm

Will started growing hops, shortly joined by farm manager Henry.

See, Henry grew up on the biggest hop farm in the UK and spent his childhood getting involved with all aspects of growing hops, so was the perfect guy for the job.

After studying hard at university, Henry moved to the city and worked as head of marketing for an educational software company. But after a few years of office life he soon realised that farming – specifically hop farming – was completely ingrained into the person he was and he longed to return to the countryside.

Henry Smith – Farm Manager

Henry Smith – Farm Manager

He soon left the corporate world and began managing a few small hop farms in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. His big opening came In November 2015, when Will offered him a job managing Brook House Farm. This role came with exciting plans to transfer a cider apple and arable crop farm into an ambitious hop enterprise.

From Software to Craft Beer

Next, enter Sebastian, a successful business manager and associate of Will’s.

Sebastian used to work in Enterprise Software and has had a variety of sales and business development roles in the last 10 years. It only took a few visits to the farm during the 2018 harvest to convince him that a move into the world of hops was exactly what he was looking for.

Sebastian Nielsen – Business Manager

Sebastian Nielsen – Business Manager

So after a successful harvest and enjoying the hop life, Will decided with associate Sebastian Nielsen to officially launch a hop farming business, with a view to doing things differently. And Brook House is different, in that we sell our hops directly to brewers, instead of through the merchants.

Launching a Hop Farm

Brook House Hops was officially launched in 2018 – with a strong intention to supply craft brewers independently with the unique hops being grown at the farm, as well as hops from other farmers Will knew around the world.

The Brook House Hops team are hard-working and resourceful, working long hours during the harvest season to make sure all the hops are cultivated efficiently and packaged quickly to maintain their freshness.

A number of staff including owner and farmer Will and his family live on site, meaning that the working of the farm and running of the business is a lifestyle, not just a business. The passion shines through in everything they do.

Time to Celebrate with our First Ever Annual Hop Walk

Based just beside the stunning Malvern hills, just off a country lane in Bromyard, Brook House Hops are a hidden gem in the Herefordshire countryside.

Boasting just shy of 100 acres of hop fields, we have been selling our UK hops to brewers all over the country since last year but this year was our first ever organised hop walk.

Alongside brewers from far and wide, the Brook House team joined representatives from Hobsons Brewery, Wye Valley Brewery and Marston’s Brewery on a day out at the farm, exploring the long and luscious hop bines out in the fields and discussing the industry and what was next in store for beer.

Sebastian Nielsen, Sales Manager for the farm, said it was a great day of celebrating British produce: “Our ethos is to provide the best UK grown hop products to support brewers in their quest for the creation of unique, crafted products. We are unusual in that we sell hops directly to brewers, instead of through the big merchants. We want to directly support brewers and the hop walk was a great celebration of UK industry. We even had lunch provided by Legges – legendary 4th generation Bromyard butchers!”

Sales manager Sebastian Nielsen providing green hops for Boss Brewing

A young, ambitious team, Brook House have a unique story to tell and we were keen to spend a day with likeminded people with a passion for beer and hops. The farm has a history of world-class, award-winning hop cultivation thanks to the rich, red, Herefordshire soil and in the past, it was famous for all types of farming from rearing livestock to growing cider apples. We sell differently too – directly and not through hop merchants. By cutting out the middleman, we believe we can listen more closely to trends and provide their customers with a personalised service.

The event was a big deal for the region, Sebastian continues: “In the brewing world an annual hop walk is a big event, looked forward to all year round as an occasion for brewers, beer writers, beer enthusiasts and hop farmers to get together and enjoy each other’s company whilst watching the annual harvest. We hope that everybody got something from the day.”

The tour took the groups out into the fields to look at the beautiful hop bines, sturdy and strong after a great year of sunshine and plenty of rain, as well as into the working production plant, which was busy with harvest workers. There we watched the hops being taken from the bines, separated from the leaves, dried and processed, ready to be sent out and made into great beer.

Many brewers took the opportunity to grab some green hops – hops that are not yet dried, and therefore give the beer a uniquely fresh and crisp aroma. Green ale is a growing trend in brewing, and it tastes best when the hops are as fresh as can be. What could be better than hops direct from the UK countryside?

After the tour, lunch was served and the debating started. Which is best – UK or US hops? What are the trends for 2019? How is the New Zealand harvest doing? What types of beer are popular and growing right now? It certainly made for an interesting roundup to a great day and a wonderful celebration of what makes Brook House proud to be a part of the UK brewing industry.