Cascade’s all-Tassie hop celebration

Eight years ago Max Burslem brewed Cascade’s inaugural ‘First Harvest’ ale – a beer dedicated to Tasmania’s hop harvest.

The just released 2009 vintage, coinciding with Max’s fortieth year with Cascade, uses fresh hops flowers from three experimental hops varieties that Max says ‘have never been used in brewing before’.

Max even named the three varieties himself, honouring Tasmania’s earliest hops pioneers Richard Clarke, Ebenzer Shoobridge and the Francomb family. Max says that Clarke grew Tasmania’s first hops, Shoobridge established the industry in the Derwent Valley and the Frankcomb family pioneered the Huon Valley.

The hops for first harvest came from the Derwent Valley’s Bushy Park Estate hop field, site of Shoobridge’s plantings. In the brewing process they join Tasmanian barley, malted at Cascade’s own malt house.

Each brewer has his own style – and this is streets away from the Wig & Pen’s on-tap versions reviewed here last week. Max’s is less in-your-face in the hops department and not as aromatic. Against a background flavour of rich, smooth malt First Harvest focuses more on hops flavour and its pervading, loveable bitterness.

And next week we’ll look at Chuck Hahn’s James Squire Hop Thief. It’s bound to be utterly different again, but still in the zesty, bitter hops mould.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009