HOP to it is the challenge that has been issued this month by Arundel Brewery to the town’s green-fingered masses.
Twenty gardeners are being offered the chance to enter a unique hop-growing contest – and to see their hops brewed into a special real ale.
The Arundel-based firm is inviting gardeners to enter straight away as the plants have just arrived at the brewery and will be ready to plant out towards the end of May.
Samantha Walker, the firm’s marketing director, said: “Our business is part of the community and we have a real involvement with a local product.
“Growing hops is quite challenging, but competing to grow the biggest and the best should be a lot of fun. Some varieties of hop plants have been known to reach 25ft in one growing season.”
Closing date to apply to take part is May 16, when all the names will go into a hat and 20 lucky participants will be drawn to have a hop plant to nurture over the coming months.
There will be two chances to become a winning hop-grower in this exciting two-year project. The vines will not bear fruit until 2015 but in autumn this year they will all be measured. The winner will be the gardener who has grown the biggest vine – not necessarily in height, as the plants can be trained to grow horizontally as well as vertically. The prize will be a case of Arundel Brewery’s award-winning Sussex Gold.
Samantha added: “Last year we used some hops grown in his own garden by a man in Brighton and that was a great success, attracting a lot of interest, and gave us the idea of inviting gardeners in and around Arundel to grow some for us.”
Next year will see the greatest challenge when the hops are harvested and the winner will be the gardener whose vine has produced the biggest crop. He or she will scoop a case of Sussex IPA.
The entire harvest will then be brewed into the brewery’s popular Christmas beer.
The hop plants thrive best in a fairly shady spot and instructions on growing them will be supplied to everyone who is chosen to take part in the competition.
There are 20 plants available for those wishing to join the competition.
To enter or for more details, telephone the brewery on 01903 733111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org