The Tasmanian hop harvest started this week with the now annual picking of hops for Cascade’s First Harvest Ale.
The Foster’s-owned brewery describes Cascade First Harvest as “a celebration of the freshest and best of the Tasmanian harvest and uses only the first hops and barley of the season.”
“It was the first beer produced in Australia to use freshly harvested ‘green’ hops in its brew and is still the only one of its type crafted in Tasmania.”
This year the hops were picked at the Bushy Park Estate in the picturesque Derwent Valley yesterday, 3rd of March, and were added to the kettle at the Cascade Brewery on the very same day.
“This labour intensive, time dependent and hand-crafted brewing philosophy results in the creation of a beer that is truly unique. Cascade First Harvest is made in a single batch and historically sells out before the full snap of winter sets in,” a brewery media release said.
This year three experimental hop varieties grown at the Bushy Park Estate have been specially selected for the brew. These fresh, green hops release unique floral aromas and characteristics, which come from the resins and aromatic oils present in the hop cones (flowers). They also help create a dense foam which results in Cascade First Harvest’s signature thick, creamy head when poured.
According to Head Brewer, Max Burslem, each First Harvest brew uses quality Tasmanian ingredients, but are all unique in their own special way.
“The first weeks of autumn mark the annual hop harvest and the brewing of Cascade First Harvest, a highlight here at Cascade. While it’s always rewarding to work with our local barley and hop growers to source the freshest seasonal harvest, it’s also a time for us to experiment with new hop varieties,” Max said.
“Using hops that haven’t been used in brewing before means that we’re able to craft a truly unique tasting full-flavoured beer each year, and in doing so, keep beer lovers guessing.”
Continuing the tradition and in a nod to the history of the Tasmanian hop growing industry, Max has personally named the three new hop varieties: Text (aroma hop), Glenleith (bitter hop) and Oakley (flavor hop) after the original hop drying kilns (otherwise known as ‘oast houses’) of Tasmania. Amongst many others which were built more than 100 years ago, these kilns still stand today in the Derwent Valley.
“Based on this year’s hop selection and the traditional style of First Harvest beers, we anticipate the 2010 brew to have distinctive fruit salad and resinous hop flavours offset by peppery, spicy aromas and finishing with leafy spearmint notes,” Max said.
The distinctive, octagonal Text kiln lies within the grounds of the Bushy Park Hop Estate and was built in 1867 by Ebenezer Shoobridge, who established and pioneered the hop industry in Tasmania. The Text kiln was once used for Sunday church services and the stone tablets in the brickwork reveal biblical texts. Shoobridge was renowned as a religious man who drew inspiration from the bible and believed his workers would do the same.
The weatherboard Glenleith kiln was built by an early, prominent producer in the nearby Tasmanian town of Lachlan, however the exact date of its construction and first use is unknown. While the Oakley Kiln is a smaller building, which was more often put to use by humble family hop growers.
The 2010 release of Cascade First Harvest Ale will be available from the 3rd of May at premium retailers nationally.
RRP: $23.99 per 330ml 6-pack. Each 330 ml bottle contains 1.4 standard drinks/5.5% ABV.
*From a media release