The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Once-a-year beer hits chiller shelves

A special range of ‘once-a-year beer’ that can only be created during the New Zealand hop harvest is now available as brewers release their latest season of fresh hop brews.

What are fresh hop beers?
Each year while the New Zealand hop harvest is in full swing and the bulk of the crop is being preserved in pellet form, brewers get a fleeting chance to work with a small amount of their favourite ingredient: freshly picked hops.

Supplied within hours of being plucked from the bine, fresh hops are crisp, green and bursting with pungent hoppy goodness – all qualities brewers aim to capture in each unique beer.

Timing is everything.
“Timing is everything with fresh hops,” says Chris Anderson, Foodstuffs North Island.

“Hops are quite delicate, and it’s a race to get them picked, chilled and into brews before their best qualities start to degrade.

“Many brewers work one-on-one with their chosen hop growers to nail down the harvest of their fresh hops to a precise day and time, and then transport them to the brewery within hours – sometime by chartered plane – where bubbling brews are ready and waiting.”

For Epic’s Luke Nicholas, it took less than 12 hours to get the hops from bine to brew.

“Our friend from Eggers Hop Farm in the Moutere Valley was up at 5am picking the hops, so we could get them into the brew as fast as possible,” he says.

“He even went through the field to personally select the very best plants for us, so we have the most aromatic and perfectly ripe Riwaka hops – a real cult favourite among beer lovers.

“The hops were delivered to Nelson airport by 7am, were in Auckland by noon and into the brew by 2pm the same day – so our customers can be sure they are getting some of the freshest fresh hop beer around!”

The fresh hop beers are available at participating New World stores across the North and South Island during the month of April.

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