The weather was kind to us for our visit to the Redlands Hop Farm, Salehurst and we started the afternoon with lunch at the Salehurst Halt where we fortified ourselves with food and drink before our farm visit. The hop farm is one of a few remaining in the UK where once they stretched all over the East Sussex and Kent countryside and produce only 10% of the hops which were once harvested. Andrew Hoad, the farmer, whose family have farmed in the area for six generations, showed us around and told us about the production processes. He showed us the vines growing in the fields and the automated methods which are used today to process, dry and pack the hops. This is a far cry from the hand harvesting by East Enders 70 years ago. We saw the hop vines brought in from the fields and then being strung up on a production line. From here the hop flowers were transported via a series of belts where they were progressively cleaned up before being put into drying vats. They spend 6 hours being dried before being packed in 60Kg bales and eventually sent to brewers. Modern hops are richer in the oils than their predecessors and modern brewing processes need fewer of them. Some countries such as Germany produce more hops than 50 years ago but we produce enough for our own needs. Each year harvesting starts at about the August Bank Holiday and lasts for 3 weeks. We were amazed by the huge investment in equipment needed for a relatively short but intense period each year. All this and still at the mercy of the weather, weeds, plant diseases and parasites. We were all enthralled at the insight Andrew gave us into the life and hazards of a farming life and the production of a key ingredient of English Ales.