Hop shoots and leaves from the Hogs Back Brewery hop garden have been used to create a salad that bucks convention by appealing to men as well as women, in a trial with Red Mist Leisure, the award winning, independently run pub group whose pubs are close to the brewery in Surrey.
Red Mist Leisure’s group chef Mark Collins created a â€˜Real Ale Salad’, combining hop leaves and shoots with watercress, Montgomery cheddar, pickled walnuts and pear quince, in a dressing based on Hogs Back’s flagship TEA ale. The salad went on sale over the weekend of 17-19 April at the Stag on the River in Eashing near Guildford.
The hops were picked from the Hogs Back Brewery garden, which was planted in 2014 on land adjacent to the brewery. The shoots used in the salad were from early growing Cascade hops, though shoots are now coming through on Fuggles and Farnham White Bine, a near-extinct hop variety which Hogs Back has brought back to its Surrey home.
A traditional English delicacy in many hop-growing areas, the shoots were sometimes known as â€˜poor man’s asparagus.’
Manager at the Stag on the River, Laurie Bullett, comments, …Hops are such an unusual ingredient that every customer I spoke to wanted to try them, especially when I explained that they came from Hogs Back Brewery, which is so well known around here.
…We were surprised at how popular the salad was with men, as it’s not usually a dish they order. A combination of the warmer weather, and the association with TEA, which so many of them enjoy drinking, was probably behind their choice.â€
Rupert Thompson, owner of Hogs Back Brewery, said, …We’re grateful to Red Mist Leisure for creating and then trialling this delicious dish and delighted with diners’ response to it, which was clearly influenced by the local provenance of the shoots, something we know is important to many consumers.
…Very few brewers have their own hop garden and one of the benefits is that we can experiment with the shoots as well as add the harvested flowers to our beers. As this is all a new venture for us, we’re unsure how many shoots we’ll have but we hope to extend the trial with Red Mist Leisure for as long as we can supply them.â€