Oast Houses

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright April 2009, Oast House Archive; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.

❖ Inside the oast house

TQ7458 : Plenum Chamber by Oast House Archive
The plenum chamber. On the lower floor of the kiln was the fire. Initially these were wood fired, later to be fired by charcoal or coal, and then oil.

TQ6747 : Oast House Kiln by Oast House Archive
In this kiln at the Beltring Hop Farm, a coal fired set up with a central brick arch with a fire either side. The man looking after the kiln was called the 'oastie'. He would stay in the oast house 24 hours a day to maintain the hops.

The Drying floor directly above the plenum chamber. Hops were spread out about 3-4ft deep on a wooden slatted floor, a horse hair sheet was laid on top of this to stop the hops falling down to the fire and setting alight. The steep pitched roof channelled the hot air through the hops to the top. A cowl on the top of the roof allowed the hot air ('reek') to be drawn up through the kiln in a vacuum effect. The cowl pivoted to control the air extraction and stop rain getting in. The hops took around 8-10 hours (but up to 16 hours) to dry at 120-130F (around 50C).

TQ7458 : Hop Cooling Floor by Oast House Archive
The cooling floor After the hops had dried they were taken out to the cooling floor at first floor, once cooled they were then packed with the hop press.

TQ7458 : Hop Press by Oast House Archive
The hop press was situated on the upper floor and used to ram the cooled hops into a large sack called a 'pocket', suspended to the ground floor. Before the hop press was invented in the 1850s the hops would have been trodden in manually by foot.

TQ7458 : Hop Pocket by Oast House Archive
The hop pocket, a 6-7 foot sack made of hessian or canvas, was filled with hops using the hop press. A filled pocket weighed around 75kg.


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