Q&A with Bruce – Hop Garden Tour Guide

Since first coming to work with us back in the Autumn of 2018, Bruce Cornford has worn many hats at the brewery. From Hop Garden worker to Kiln builder & Brewery tour guide, now this summer Bruce is running tours of our Hop Garden.

We took a few minutes from his busy schedule to ask him a few questions.

So tell us about yourself?

I live locally in Fleet with my family, support Southampton and enjoy a broad range of music, both live and streaming. After over 30 years in the IT & telecoms industry I’m now spending more time on my hobbies and leisure interests.

Do you remember the first time you visited the Brewery?

I can’t remember exactly the first time, what I can recall is in the mid 1990s I was looking where to buy fresh quality draught beer to drink at home especially after a local off-licence that sold draught beer closed. From my search I discovered the Hogs Back Brewery and I have been a regular customer ever since. I’m also fortunate that many local pubs in Fleet stock TEA and other Hogs Back beers.

How did you get involved with the Brewery?

As a real ale enthusiast and being especially fond of beer from the Hogs Back, a request in the newsletter in October 2018 to help transfer and plant hops in the new hop garden grabbed my interest. I have now been involved in every stage of establishing the new hop garden which has been very interesting and a lot of hard work. 

Bruce in his usual role as a Brewery tour guide – hopefully he can lead these again soon

What training did you have to do to become a tour guide?

In many ways preparing to be a tour guide has been easy. All the staff working at the brewery have been very welcoming since I started helping in the hop garden. Everyone has been generous in sharing their knowledge and experience, including the brewing team, marketing and the other tour guides. So combining the support from all my colleagues with what feels like a lifetime interest in beer has been ideal training. My dad was a home brewer for over 40 years and I’ve been known to have a go at home brewing as well.

How do you remember all of the details?

Good question, I don’t really know. I guess if you are passionate about beer and brewing it has just been about picking up Hogs Back’s unique qualities. And as I have mentioned, everyone at the brewery has been very supportive and keen to share their knowledge.

Replacing the Brewhouse with the garden – it could be worse!

What is your favourite part of the tour (other than the beer!)?

Meeting people who also have an interest and passion for beer and the brewery. It’s rewarding to share how we brew and have some fun along the way, which of course involves sampling many of our different beers. I enjoy the reaction by customers who taste one of our beers for the first time.  For example, the surprise how good Hogstar is especially by non-lager drinkers!

What makes the Hogs Back tour experience different from other brewery tours?

I believe as an independent brewery that brews an extensive range of popular beers together with its own hop garden makes Hogs Back Brewery unique, especially in a market where many local & regional breweries are taken over. So for me it’s sharing the benefits of being independent and continually innovating in the industry that makes Hogs Back different. Oh yes, sampling many of our beers throughout the tour helps.

Do any of your facts get an interesting reaction…..

People are quite often surprised regarding the time we leave Hogstar to ferment and mature naturally – over a month! The fact that our 8 acre hop garden is right on our doorstep, growing enough hops for around 50% our hop requirements. And finally my tan – people can’t believe it’s just from working in the Garden. It’s a Tongham Tan!

Hop Garden tours are running each Friday, Saturday & Sunday until the end of August and you can book your places here.