Now this is the story all about how… a bunch of Kiwi brewers created beers from freshly harvested hops
Every late summer/early autumn, brewers up and down New Zealand eagerly await the hop harvest, to get their hands on little green cones of hop heaven as soon as they’re ready for picking. Sleepless nights are only broken by the news that the harvest is ready, at which point many of the brewers stampede to hop plantations, the biggest of which are located in the Nelson area. “There is nothing like the magic of the first bales of hops which are as fresh as can be. That is the stuff brewers’ dreams are made of,” confirms Rob Marshall, Monteith’s Head Brewer.
To celebrate the harvest, over the past few years New Zealand has seen the rise in popularity of fresh hop brews, made with these just-picked hops. The release in of these beers has become one of the most-anticipated points on the calendar, and every year we see more and more of them hit the market. “It’s impossible to describe the impact of such a small, seemingly innocuous cone,” says Tuatara hospo honcho Corey Taylor. “The smell is intense – piney, resinous, citrussy – they’re vibrant green and feel quite delicate. Times that by a few sacks-full and the result is pretty amazing.”
The downside is that limited production runs mean these beers are often gone quicker than a beer drinker from a wine bar. If you’re still hoping to get your hands on some fresh hop brew beer, here’s our pick of two to sample while you still can…
Monteith’s Fresh Hop Pale Ale
As part of their 150th anniversary celebrations, Monteith’s have launched a limited release fresh hop brew - Monteith’s Fresh Hop Pale Ale. Made with fresh-picked, lupulin-drenched, un-kilned, whole hop cones from Motueka, Fresh Hop delivers a tastebud trip of tropical, grapefruit, passionfruit and resinous pine flavours and aromas. Available in a 330ml bottle four pack, or available on-tap at select bars nationwide. RRP$16.99, 4-pack 330ml
Braving post-cyclone conditions, the team at Tuatara sailed from Wellington to Marlborough in April to load their famous landrover with freshly-picked Riwaka hops, before heading back to the brewery where the crew hang around to see, smell and, it’s rumoured, sometimes bathe in these sensory bombs. Tuatara’s resulting new Conehead Fresh Hopped IPA has lush aromas and flavours of grapefruit, citrus zest and balanced bitterness. RRP$9.99