Recycle and source local says Hook Norton Brewery

CLA members learnt the art of beer making on a trip to Hook Norton Brewery

CLA members learnt the art of beer making on a trip to Hook Norton Brewery - Credit: Archant

CLA members learnt the art of beer making on a trip to Hook Norton Brewery yesterday

Hook Norton Brewery, nestled in the Oxfordshire countryside, has been home to the family for six generations. Starting commercially in 1856 the family still produce their real ales made with four natural ingredients, malted barley, hops, yeast and spring water.

Hook Norton’s range of draught beers are known as real ale or cask conditioned, which means they are living, breathing beers that undergo a natural secondary fermentation and mature in the container from which it is served in a pub. Most importantly, there are absolutely no additives or E numbers to make it last longer or preserve flavour.

As a membership organisation representing landowners across the UK, the CLA is an ambassador for the rural economy and local produce. Local ingredients and production is also key to Hook Norton Brewery. The water is just 200 feet away drawn up from the wells beneath the brewery, giving the beer a flavour all of its own. The brewery also uses its own yeast culture and has been using the same strain of yeast for many years. All the barley and the majority of hops used are grown in the UK and the brewery makes sure that they recycle as much as possible. The water used in the brewing process is reused as much as possible in the brewery. Spent hops are passed on for use as fertiliser and local animals are grateful recipients of the spent grains which are sent off to become cattle feed. Even local Hook Norton gardeners benefit from the natural waste produced by the brewery Shire Horses!

Naturally, the brewery is mechanised where it needs to be but in many parts, brewing is still very much a hand-driven process. CLA members were told of the personal touch the yeast is given as it is added and gently stirred by hand. As the beer then takes its journey through the brewery it is also skimmed by hand and every cask that is used is inspected by hand before it is filled.

Of course, members were allowed to get involved with the last part of the process which always has to be done by hand – sampling and tasting the wonderful end product! The tasting included ‘Hooky’, ‘Old Hooky’ and ‘Lion’. Members were told how to sample by looking at the colour, smelling the beer and tasting - and were encouraged to taste the rest of the Hooky range such as Flagship (originally brewed to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar) and Double Stout (which uses black malt that enriches the colour and teases the palate with an unmistakable ‘toast’ flavour).

CLA event manger Rosie Farthing said: “I always try to organise events where our members can learn something new and get involved. Hook Norton Brewery is an excellent example of a family run business that is supporting the UK grain market while adding value – boosting the rural economy. I am pleased that we could support them by organising this event.”

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Experience the Hooky Brewery for yourself this weekend:

Brewery Open Day – for St George and England, Saturday April 20, 10am-3pm

An Open Day packed with fun, food, tours, Knights in armour, WWII vehicles and beer. Tours are charged at £5 per person.