Leeds goes green: A 2018 co-HOPerative project

Written by Christine Jopling.

Leeds is a big place. A city, with the tallest building in Yorkshire (Bridgewater Place, or The Dalek if you’re from round here), the largest legal and financial centre outside London, and a preposterous number of Sainsbury’s.

But that doesn’t mean that Leeds can’t do small-scale, independent and community-focused. Oh no. This is where we mention beer.

But not quite yet! First, you must have hops. There is a group of like-minded beer-loving, green-fingered (in some cases) growers of hops who have come together as the Leeds Hop Growers, more recently becoming Leeds Co-HOPerative. I first came across this little group last year when they approached us, (me and David) as members of the organising committee of the Leeds CAMRA Beer Festival, to see if they could sell hop plants there. How could we say no? The Hop Shop was born, and the hops sold like little hot cakes. The idea is that you grow and nurture your Cascade hop plant, pick the green hops in early autumn, and then everyone’s hops are gathered together to make beer. A good plan!

So off we went with our pots of hops – just the two – to plant in our Pudsey allotment. One strove to do great things and went a bit mad all over the loganberries. We had to stick a very long bit of bamboo in the ground to give it something to climb. Even as it hovered in a dangly way above our heads, it still only managed to produce a pasta-bowl full of hops that autumn.

Hello lovely hops

Despite everyone’s best efforts, that year a beer never came to pass. So we did it all again this year! The Co-HOPerative tended their hops in pots, back gardens and allotments, desperately trying to keep them watered in the ridiculous summer, training them around drainpipes, poles and bits of string. Watching them grow again from stragglers into triffids. Gathering carrier bags full (or in our case, a small ziplock bag full – twice as many as last year!) of fresh green hops.

Mmmmmm, hops…

This is where amazing people come in. It was hop-picking time, we had hops, but we had no brewer! Sharon, newbie Co-HOP helmsperson and all-round action hero, rounded us all up for a hop-drop at the Fox and Newt. We like to make it a social event. She also managed to find a brewer that could squeeze in a green hop brew at short notice, because fresh hops have to be used fresh! Katie and Ross at Nomadic Beers to the rescue!

And so GeeGee was born. Named after the Green Goddess – Nomadic Beers’ verdant delivery vehicle – made from Leeds-grown Cascade hops by a small Leeds brewery, with help from Sharon and Sam of the Co-HOP. As the Nomadic ‘Art Department’, I had the fun job of designing the pump clip, too! Launched at a celebratory Tap Room event that brought together the hop growers (who got 2 free pints!), beer lovers, brewers and a few conker tournament hopefuls, GeeGee is a 4.5% hazy, hoppy, creamy, amber-coloured glass of deliciousness, and a collaboration of the best kind.

Well hello Gee Gee

By the time you read this, I’m thinking the lovely GeeGee will all be supped, but other Nomadic Beers are available, often at Wapentake and Slocken. The next event at their Unopen Tap Room will be on 10th November – come along for beer and goodies!

About the author

Christine Jopling

Christine fell in love with proper beer when she discovered that drinking Old Peculier from a growler in the back of a taxi at the age of 18 was a truly fun experience. Since then she’s been embroiled in dozens of beer festivals, on both sides of the bar as well as part of organising teams. She could possibly call herself a trained beer taster and even draws the odd beer-related thing. Follow her on Twitter @CJoplingIllo.

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