Brewing in Kent
The county of Kent holds a unique place in the history of brewing in Great Britain. When hops were first cultivated in this country around 600 years ago, introduced by Dutch and Flemish merchants, it was at Westbere just outside Canterbury where they were grown. Indeed the Kentish soil proved so suited to the growing of Humulus lupulus, the Latin name for the hop, that the Garden of England soon became the centre of the British hop industry.
Perhaps this is why brewing was one of Kent’s major industries for many, many years. In the market town of Faversham, Shepherd Neame is based – the oldest surviving brewer in the country with a history that can be traced back to 1570, perhaps a little earlier.
Despite its hop heritage, Kent was not immune to the decline in regional brewing that blighted the post-war years. However, in the last decade or so a spectacular renaissance has taken place, and from the dark days of the mid-1990s when the county had only a handful of brewers, it can now boast in excess of forty.
Kent is also the birthplace of the micropub, small and independent pubs that put the focus on locally sourced produce. They have helped revive the brewer’s art in Kent and, in doing so, written the latest chapter in a charming and very colourful history.
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