Hook Norton Low Carbon brings you ‘George’s Green Hop’ in collaboration with Hook Norton Brewery. Quite possibly the lowest carbon beer ever produced!

This very special low carbon collaboration beer ‘George’s Green Hop’ is now available to try, buy and refill from Hook Norton Brewery, and The Pear Tree.

Board members of the community benefit society Hook Norton Low Carbon came up with the eco idea, to show how even a product that is already quite low in carbon; cask ale, can be reduced even further by looking at elements of the production and delivery process. 

They teamed with Hook Norton Brewery, a victorian brewery on their doorstep to produce the low carbon beer called ‘George’s Green Hop’ which was brewed over ‘National Cask Ale Week’ in Sep and first released on ‘Clean Air Day’ on Oct 8th. The first casks were available in local pubs delivered by low carbon means. Now the beer is available for the public to come with their own refillable containers from The Malthouse Kitchen at Hook Norton Brewery and The Pear Tree pub in Hook Norton. 

George Clarke, 6th generation brewer, and James Clarke, MD, 5th generation at the family run brewery, worked closely with HNLC to work out various steps that could be taken to create quite possibly the lowest carbon beer.

George, the beers namesake led the brewing process of this beer, which utilised fresh green hops, the rest of the namesake:

“We are trying to reduce carbon emissions of the brewery, which includes heating various vessels and using a lot of water, sometimes inefficiently. We are trying to reduce our impact, and the Green Hop beer is one of the ways we have reduced it this year.” 

George Clarke, Hook Norton Brewery, Brewer

James was involved in the initial idea, plus came along to help pick the wild hop bines from Binsey Lane, near The Perch in Oxford:

“This project came about over a glass or 2 of beer. We were marking the absence of the usually yearly Hook Norton Beer festival, which of course had to be cancelled this year, with a small group of organisers. The idea came up of making a new beer but trying to get the carbon footprint as low as we could, naturally we thought to work with Hook Norton Low Carbon group to achieve this. 

We have produced a very enjoyable, drinkable beer, but it’s the whole project that is the exciting part.

This project is a catalyst moving forward, for other ideas to lower the carbon footprint of beer production at our brewery, plus hopefully save costs by lowering energy use, as it is an energy intensive process.” 

James Clarke, Hook Norton Brewery Managing Director

Local cask ale is already one of the lowest carbon beer options, having almost a *third lower carbon footprint compared to bottled, imported choices, especially lager, on a supermarket shelf, but the village collaboration worked together to eliminate even more carbon in this brew by:

– using wild, local, manually harvested fresh hops, saving on farming energy

– hops were collected by HNLC Car Club electric vehicles which are charged by HNLC solar panels at the Hook Norton Sports and Social Club

– members of the community came together to hand pick the hop cones from the bines, saving on machine energy that would usually strip the bines

– the beer uses nearby unroasted malted barley, saving on heat and transport energy

– brewed in a small batch using mostly manual techniques which also used less water

– brewed at a time of day when the equipment was already warmed from a previous beer batch

– it is unfined, leaving out the Isinglass making it vegan

– the beer remains unbottled, and is available in casks only, which are a circular system, saving on packaging waste, bottling energy plus potential glass recycling energy

– casks were delivered to local pubs where possible by foot (and wheel barrow) or with existing delivery runs when further afield

– local residents received deliveries by eBike (also charged by solar panels) and vintage bike in their own refillable containers on Clean Air Day, Oct 8

– now available on tap to taste or for collection in refillable containers from the brewery or The Pear Tree pub

James Clarke was having a beer or 2 with Jeremy Hayward, Hook Norton Low Carbon board member and Hook Norton Beer Festival committee member, when the project started to take shape:

“The idea came to me some time ago because Hook Norton Low Carbon had started to try and reach a different demographic within the village, basically younger people and young families. This generation rarely have the time to engage in green initiatives, so we thought a low carbon beer would be a fun way to reach out to them, especially during the pandemic.” 

Jeremy Hayward, HNLC 

Jessica D’Souza, HNLC board member was involved in the whole process, including being one of the vintage bike delivery riders:

“Not only have we contributed to producing a delicious smooth, balanced beer which has less impact on the planet, this whole project has been a fascinating process. 

At first we thought we could just save carbon emissions by cutting out fossil fuel transport, but as we sat down and looked into the whole process of brewing cask ale, we worked out many other changes we could make to lower the carbon footprint. 

This project also engaged the local community at a time of uncertainty whether it was picking the hops or sampling the beer at home after a refillable delivery. 

It made me realise that this process can be applied to so much in everyday life. Looking at the products you use, and transport methods you choose, there are usually greener alternatives if you just take time to think through and research the options. Tastes good, feels good!”

George’s Green Hop is now available on tap to taste or for collection in refillable containers from the brewery or The Pear Tree pub.

* figures taken from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2010/jun/04/carbon-footprint-beer