'The Hop Harvest', c 1870s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from a supplement to the 'Illustrated London News', 3 October, 1874. There are illustrated scenes of oast houses and the proces of harvesting and drying hops in the kiln. English ale was made from fermented malt, but in 1400 hops were added to the proces to create beer. In the 15th century hops began to be grown in Kent, and a flourishing brewing industry grew up in nearby London. Kent proved to have ideal soil for growing hops, and plenty of wood for the charcoal used in oast houses to dry the hops.