The chance to raise a glass to farmer-led research is on offer as the Great Beer Debate returns to the Oxford farming conferences with Innovative Farmers.
A panel of hop growers, brewers, and a maltster are inviting delegates from Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) and Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) to join them in discussing all things beer as both events kick off.
There will be the chance to sample beers as the panelists look to cover the challenges being faced by British farmers, and how soil types and the decisions made on farm impact the finished product.
The debate, chaired by BBC Farming Today’s Anna Hill, will also explore findings from on-farm research trials including the field labs with Innovative Farmers that panelists are taking part in.
Panelist and grower Ali Capper, of Stocks Farm on the Herefordshire and Worcestershire border, has been taking part in a field lab investigating the benefits of cover crops for hops.
She said: “I really want to bring to life how important the British hop is – it brings so much flavour to our beer and our hop industry punches very much above its weight with a fantastic number of different varieties. In the world there are about 150 commercially available hops, and we grow 34 of them here, despite the UK having only 1% of worldwide hop growing land. That really shows the level of passion and innovation we have here. But we’ve been through three really difficult years. Covid hit us hard with the closures of pubs, and the 2022 season has been difficult for all growers. I’m really looking forward to talking about how supply chain decisions impact the drink, and to bringing that hop grower lens to the Great Beer Debate.”
Joining Ali on the panel is Stroud Brewery’s Greg Pilley and agronomist and grower Peter Glendinning who have both been involved in trialing different hop varieties to see how they perform in zero input, organic conditions. Peter has also been involved in the field lab testing the use of predatory mites to tackle spider mites. They will all be joined by Robin Appel from historic maltsters Warminster Maltings.
Innovative Farmers Manager Rebecca Swinn said: “We are excited to be back at the Oxford conferences with our much-loved debate that over the years has seen delegates sharing tips and insights on wine, cheese, cider and much more.
“Since we founded Innovative Farmers a decade ago, we have been inspired by the passion, expertise, and creativity of British farmers as momentum around farmer-led research has grown.
“After a very difficult few years, we are delighted to get farmers together to celebrate everything they continue to achieve in what promises to be an energetic debate that brings the ethos of farmer-led research to life.”
To book a place at the debate register on Eventbrite.