It all started in 2012, south of the river, when Brixton-based food growing group City Farmers hit on the idea of growing the hops for, and brewing, a community beer. Two years later, and with the drive and determination of local resident Caroline Holtum, Walthamstow Beer was born.
Walthamstow Beer began in 2014. The initial response was excellent, with over 80 Walthamstow residents signing-up to grow hops in any space they had available: gardens, balconies, allotments – the hops were sprouting everywhere! It was a learning curve for everyone as challenges ranging from pests to “which way up do we plant the hops” had everyone pulling together to find solutions to problems they never knew existed.
After a summer of growing, the hops were harvested in September and delivered to the East London Brewing Company, who brewed a very special one-off green hopped beer – so called because it was brewed from just-picked (green) hops, as opposed to the more traditional method which uses dried hops. The efforts of the community yielded 15kgs of hop cones which were used to brew 800l of beer. The beer was shared out amongst the growers as well as making an appearance in several pubs in Walthamstow, including the Ye Old Rose & Crown, The Bell and The Nags Head.
“Give my people plenty of beer, good beer, and cheap beer, and you will have no revolution among them.” – Queen Victoria
Harvesting the hops makes way for new shoots to form, and it is the new shoots that will be featuring during the Cultivate festival this March. Walthamstow Beer is looking to expand its network of hop growers. It costs £20 to join in. That gets you one hop rhizome, hop twine, a couple of stakes, a fertiliser pack, growing instructions and (here’s the important bit!) your share of the beer once its brewed. How much beer will depend on the success of the growing season.
Residents need to sign-up by Friday 6th March. During the festival itself, on Sunday 22nd March, those who have signed up to the project will collect their Hop Pack and plant their rhizomes, which will go on to produce the key ingredient for the 2015 brew of Walthamstow Beer.
If you would like to sign up to receive a Hop Pack and start growing your contribution to Walthamstow Beer, email Walthamstow.firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 6th March.