Dr Peter Darby retired as consultant to the British Hop Association in 2020, having set up and run the hop breeding programme at Wye Hops Ltd., Canterbury, Kent since 2007, following the closure of Wye College.
He is a recognised international authority on hop research, breeding, and pathology, with over 100 publications on the subject, and he has been on the editorial boards of several respected international journals.
Following a degree from the University of East Anglia in 1977, he gained his PhD at the John Innes Institute in Norwich. He briefly taught at the University of Keele, Staffordshire, before joining the Department of Hop Research at Wye College, Kent, in 1981, becoming Head of Department in 1993 until its closure in 2007.
He has developed 13 new hop varieties in Britain, including the world’s first dwarf variety, ‘First Gold’, and the world’s first hop with resistance to aphids, ‘Boadicea’. He has also been a consultant to hop breeding programmes across the world and still continues his consultancy in Alsace, where he now has a further six new varieties registered. He has been a guest lecturer to several universities, including Imperial College, Harper-Adams, Nottingham, and Cambridge.
Peter has gained many awards during his career, not least in 2016 as CAMRA Real Ale Hero No.14. In 1991 he became a Chevalier of the Order of the Hop, an ancient order of merit instituted in 1406 by John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy. He was awarded the 1999 Rudolf Hermann’s Foundation Prize (Geisenheim, Germany) for an ‘outstanding contribution to European horticultural production’, and the 2003 Royal Agricultural Society of England Award for Technology.
In 2006, he was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, followed by a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. To mark his service to the hop industry his Order of the Hop was upgraded by the International Hop Growers Congress from Chevalier to Officer in 2017.