Our Hop Yard
Ventnor Botanic Garden has resurrected the centuries old tradition of hop growing on the Isle of Wight. Starting in 2009, we became the sole specialist grower of hops on the Island. Hops are truly ripe on a single day each year, so our Botanists keep an hourly vigil over the hop rows in late August. On the chosen day a call goes out to our Volunteers and a community harvest begins. You’re welcome to join us picking or at our Hops Festival, just watch our website for dates.
Once the fifth largest hop producing county in the United Kingdom; the Isle of Wight supplied hops in vast quantities to the brewing industry for the naval port of Portsmouth. Following those glory days of the 1800’s however, hop production steadily declined to the point of vanishing from the Island economy and landscape, so much so that by the early 20th century, there were just a few remnant escapee hops still surviving in our hedgerows.
In 2009 Ventnor Botanic Garden resurrected this hop growing tradition and now have the only fully established productive hop yard on the Island. The hops are carefully maintained, basking in the microclimate of the Undercliff and perched on the cliff top to the south of the Garden. Every year the hops are picked by hand, then dried and packaged, ready to be sent to specialist brewers.
Working with our friends at Goddards Brewery here on the Isle of Wight, we have created unique flavours from our hops, taking a perfect blend between botany and master fermentation to deliver a truly artisan beverage. Enjoy by our motto, ‘Drink beer, save the garden’, knowing that every drop of amber goes towards the future of Ventnor Botanic Garden.
Our Original Ale was launched in 2013. Described as “Light golden with a small, off-white head and effervescent during pouring, the hops on the nose are punchy and earthy with light apricot fruit. The hops turn piney and slightly spicy on the palate, with the apricot taste cutting through, but work well with the juicy malt…it’s a pleasure to be drinking something with a distinctively British taste, yet a clearly artisan style…” Darren Norbury, Beer Today.
Botanic Pale Ale
In 2015 we launched our Limited Edition American Pale Ale. Working with Goddard’s Brewery, we created a strong ale, charging VBG’s green handpicked Sovereign Hops in alongside dried Cascade and Admiral Hops in the style of the new American craft beers. Some say it had something to do with the accent of VBG’s Director. Our Botanic Pale Ale is a beer with a mission – each one you enjoy supports the Island’s only botanic garden.
In 2017 we’re excited to have launched our first Botanic Lager with a hint of Eucalyptus. Head Brewer at Goddards, Nigel Eldridge, explains, “I have rarely enjoyed tasting a lager in development as much as this one. The eucalyptus is innovative and refreshing. It complements the Boadicea hop’s flavour notes beautifully.” This hand crafted lager is brewed in small batches of 3,300 liters ensuring full attention to detail is given to balancing the delicate flavours or this exciting new beer.