Behind the Scenes with Hogs Back Brewery
Meet Rupert Thompson, the owner & MD of the Hogs Back Brewery. Tell us a bit about the brewery.
We’re a small, family-owned business, tucked away in the village of Tongham, in the heart of the old hop-growing region of Surrey. We’ve been brewing beer on the same site for 25 years. The brewery occupies 18th century farm buildings that at various times have stored wheat, housed cattle, and very appropriately, hogs! We also have a hop garden just across the road from the brewery – and it’s become a local landmark. We can source 70% of our hops with a 4-mile radius of the brewery – from the hop estate at Puttenham and our own hop garden. Not only does it make us better brewers by understanding our raw ingredients better, but it means our brewing is more sustainable. We were even lucky enough to be featured on BBC’s Countryfile a few years ago.
Also, our brewery is open for guided tours and the shop stocks a full range of our draught and bottled ales, as well as up to 300 bottled beers from the UK and the rest of the world.
From one quirkily named business to another, where did the name Hogs Back Brewery originate?
The brewery takes its name from the nearby Hogs Back – a medieval trading and pilgrim route between Farnham and Guildford, sometimes less glamorously known as the A31. The Hogs Back is a ridge of hills and is supposed to resemble a supine hog. We like to think the name and brand logo match with our quirky sense of humour.
What was the inspiration for starting Hogs Back Brewery?
Martin Hunt started the brewery back in 1992. Local pubs and consumers wanted a good quality local beer, but at that time there were few breweries in Surrey. Martin took the initiative and opened the brewery on August 4th, with his first ever brew of TEA. The brew proved so popular that it sold out immediately. The rest, as they say, is history.
In addition to our award-winning Traditional English Ale (TEA), we also brew a range of traditional ales, such as Hogs Back Bitter, Hop Garden Gold, Gardeners Tipple, RIP Snorter, OTT, and the wonderful barley wine, A Over T. A few years ago our fans requested some new flavours and we launched 10 new beers ranging from cider to Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager (it’s the only lager in the world that is brewed using real chocolate).
For all the craft beer aficionados out there, can you divulge what makes the Hogs Back Personalised Beer Trio so unique?
We love the personalised labels (one can have a lot of fun with them). Plus, we wanted to introduce the brewery’s diverse range of beers:
Over the Moon is a classic well-balanced 4.2% ABV traditional ale, brewed with the finest English malt, beautifully balanced with local Fuggles hops. It is gently fermented to leave some of the natural malt sugars for a full, satisfying flavour.
Piggyback is a light, refreshing golden ale, crafted with a fine blend of best English malted barley and fresh local Fuggles hops. At 4.4% ABV it has the perfect balance of aroma and bitterness with a long dry finish and a slight hint of fruit and sweetness.
By contrast, High on the Hog is a traditional “Strong English Ale” at 5% ABV, reddish amber in colour with a powerful malty base and refreshing hoppy high notes. It is brewed with the finest English pale malt combined with some crystal and a touch of chocolate malt. A combination of Fuggles, Goldings and Bramling Cross hops are then added at three stages during the copper boil.
And, the most important question of all... What’s your favourite meal to pair with a glass of Hogs Back?
You can’t beat traditional fish and chips with a pint of TEA or spicy chorizo with our Hogstar Lager.