The High Weald remains one of the areas traditionally associated with the growing of hops for beer making. Hop varieties such as Amos' Early Bird, Cobbs, Golding and Fuggle all have their own characteristics and each add different aromas and flavours to the beer.
Hop plants or bines grow clockwise up strings attached to hop poles, producing cones of pale petals in August.
They are cut down in September and the cones, which contain essential oils and resins, are separated out to be dried in a kiln or oast house to reduce the moisture content. Bales of dried hops are then sent to breweries where they are added to malted barley, yeast and water as part of the process of fermentation which produces alcohol from the sugars in the barley. In traditional ale, hops and other ingredients are also added at the end of the process before the beer is filtered and then put into casks or bottles.
Hops grown in the High Weald are used in breweries throughout the UK as well as in local breweries and play an important part in the production of a range of distinctive ales, beers and lagers. Many pubs across the High Weald sell real ales produced by local breweries, Harveys, Shepherd Neame, King and Barnes, Larkins and Old Forge.