NEW hop varieties used in craft beers are helping a Malvern businesses grow - and reduce food miles in the brewing industry.

Hop merchants Charles Faram and growers Stocks Farm in Suckley are helping the area become known as a global centre of excellence.

Beverley Nielsen, economic development portfolio holder at Malvern Hills District Council, visited both businesses to find out how they’re creating new job opportunities.

“I want to learn more about businesses directly impacting our local economy, supporting sustainability and growing quality local jobs,” said Cllr Nielsen.

Malvern Gazette: Ali Capper and Richard Capper of Stocks Farm and Cllr Beverley NielsenAli Capper and Richard Capper of Stocks Farm and Cllr Beverley Nielsen (Image: Cllr Beverley Nielsen)

“Charles Faram hop distributors are a good example. They’re focussing on substituting new local hop varieties in the beers local people drink and helping more local farmers to grow these, providing an example of a circular economy and sustainable principles in action.”

Founded in 1865 and based in Malvern, Charles Faram employs 46 people and sells into large international, regional and craft breweries.

Managing director Paul Corbett said: "Many people think they’re buying local when they buy local beers but don’t realise that quite a large proportion of the hops being used are imported from America, representing many food miles.

“Our main aim is to replace US varieties with new, locally-grown hops. We're also working with the Soil Association to develop varieties that will work well in organic production and we are trying to develop varieties with high oil content that will work well for hop oil extraction.

“We’re seeing real interest and welcome support from our local craft breweries such as Wye Valley and Purity.”

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Charles Faram is working with six farms in Malvern Hills and others in Herefordshire growing new hop varieties including the Harlequin, Jester, Phoenix and Godiva hops. 

Stocks Farm in Suckley, Worcestershire has been setting land over to the new hop varieties, winning national awards and helping Herefordshire and Worcestershire become known as a global centre of excellence.

Ali Capper of Stocks Farm said: “Hops are hip. They’ve become ‘rock stars’. Hops were a commodity back in the early 2000s. There were no craft brewers back then. 

“But there’s been a resurgence in craft brewers which means brewers now care about the ingredients. They want British hops, which are in big demand. It’s about flavour and hops are the key ingredient in beer – a bit like grapes in wine.”