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Pilgrims’ Ale Launches at Food Festival.

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Pilgrims’ Ale Launches at Food Festival.

Christ Church’s new ale is arriving at the Canterbury Food and Drink Festival at the end of September!

Like its predecessors – most recently The Three Choughs and Hop Picker’s Tipple – Pilgrims’ Ale is a heritage green hop ale, with the hops grown here on Canterbury Campus next to Moore building. We tended to our hops bines all spring and summer, and in early September, University staff, International students and local business partners gathered to harvest this year’s crop by hand as part of the third Diamond Netwalking event for Christ Church’s Diamond Jubilee Year.

As is tradition, they were then taken on the journey through Canterbury high street down to the Foundry, to be brewed into this year’s Christ Church ale.

At the centre of the yearly ale project is a focus on heritage and the site Canterbury Christ Church sits on; once part of St Augustine’s Abbey. Above-ground remains of the abbey can be seen in the Brew-Bakehouse wall next to Coleridge, one part of the Canterbury UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to our hop gardens, we also have a heritage orchard planted for our Golden Jubilee year outside Ramsey, hosting a number of heritage apples and cobnuts – the same varieties that might’ve grown here when the monks tended the orchards several hundred years ago.

Other ales have honoured Canterbury’s history, too, such as Tradescant 400 Ale referencing John Tradescant the Elder, the renowned gardener who designed the gardens at St. Augustine’s Abbey. Over the years, we’ve also had ales celebrating St Gregory and St Thomas Becket.

Pilgrims’ Ale relates to the pilgrimages associated with Kent’s history; Canterbury Cathedral has been, and continues to be, a popular pilgrimage destination. The cathedral today remains the biggest attraction in Kent, receiving nearly a million visitors every year.

Today, pilgrimage’s modern form is no longer about faith alone, but open for everyone to experience and enjoy. It invites locals and strangers alike to experience new places and people, and stands as a slower, more nature-centric activity in a fast-paced modern world. For this reason, the Pilgrims’ Ale is being launched to coincide with the beginning of the Kent Pilgrims’ Festival: five days of pilgrimage-and-medieval-inspired activities, events and walking routes to tap into the legacy of Kent’s pilgrim history.

The Kent Pilgrimage Festival runs from the 21st to the 25th of September.

You can get a taste of Christ Church’s brand new ale, however, from the 23rd to the 25th at the Canterbury Food and Drink Festival, situated at the Foundry beer tent at Dane John Park. It will be available in bottles from mid-October Touchdown Café and the Food Court.


By Bethany Climpson, Sustainability Engagement Assistant

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