Prepare for the new-season hop brews

It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. I know this not by the fruit laden vines that round the thatch-eaves run (who has eaves these days?) — but by the Hobart Mercury ad for hop-pickers.

Tasmania’s our main hop-growing area, and the ad, closing march 3, sought workers to put in10 hours a day, six days week for three weeks.  Hopefully the ad worked, because I’m told hop picking commenced in Victoria on 3 March and Tasmania won’t be far behind. The New Zealanders will soon be flat chat, too.

Much of the crop will be dried and pelletised for year-round brewing use. But increasingly we’re seeing brewers big and small putting those fresh, sappy, pungent, resiny hop flowers to stunning effect in seasonal brews.

It’ll only be a matter of weeks before we taste them in rich, malty beer flowing through the Wig & Pen’s hopinator. We’ll also keep and eye out for Red Hill Brewery beers made shortly after harvest ¬– they grow their own down there on the Mornington Peninsula and the fresh hop taste is a signature.

And a couple of months down the track we’ll enjoy two widely distributed bottled products – James Squire Hop Thief and Cascade First Harvest from Lion Nathan and Foster’s respectively.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010