It’s a busy time in Tasmania’s Bushy Park at the moment with the annual hop harvest. Australian Brews News’ Pete Mitcham is down there to report on this year’s harvest, as well as to participate in the annual Cascade Hop Harvest brew.
The annual Cascade hop harvest begins!
Cascade Brewery Co’s annual hop harvest officially gets underway today (Wednesday, 14 March) with the picking of the hops as part of the brewing process for the 2012 Cascade First Harvest vintage ale release, to be led for the very first time by Head Brewer, Mike Unsworth.
As the name implies, First Harvest is crafted with the first harvest of Tasmanian barley and hops of the season, making it renowned for its noteworthy intensity, balance and a unique fresh hop character.
The hops for the 2012 Cascade First Harvest ale will be hand-harvested today at the well-known Bushy Park Estates in the stunning Derwent Valley, north of Hobart, and the limited release brew will be available to beer lovers in early May.
This year’s three experimental hop varieties which have never been used in brewing before are Campania (bitterness hop), Triabunna (flavour hop) and Ellendale (aroma hop). All have been named after historical hop growing areas in Tasmania, where hops were produced for local beer production throughout the 19th century.
The limited release ale was the first beer of its kind to be produced in Australia, brewed using exclusively fresh, green handpicked hops and was the first beer to commit to using experimental hops each year, thus leading the charge for the development of new hop varieties in Australia.
Cascade First Harvest is made in a single batch and historically sells out before the full snap of winter sets in with only 3,600 cases available for sale. A testament to the Cascade team’s labour intensive, time dependent and hand-crafted brewing philosophy, the result is the creation of a beer that is truly unique.
Head brewer at Cascade, Mike Unsworth is eager and excited to begin the creation of his first Cascade First Harvest release.
“A highlight every year for Cascade, I’m really excited to be brewing my first vintage of First Harvest and continuing the tradition of giving our fans a beer that is so distinctive,” said Unsworth ahead of today’s hop picking.
“Based on this year’s hop selection and the traditional style of First Harvest, we anticipate the 2012 brew to exhibit aromas and flavours of peeled fruits and blackberries over nettles, green leaves and ground spices. The finish should deliver a resinous bitterness which should blend in with the malt base to give a well-balanced hoppy beer,” Unsworth continued.
Campania is situated in the Coal River Valley, an area more associated with wine but originally settled to mine the local coal. The valley was used as grazing land and for pastureland, including the growing of hops which was supplied to the early breweries around Hobart in the 1820s and 1830s.
Triabunna is situated on the East Coast, an area where hops were produced successfully in the late 1800’s with mild, sunny summers producing good crops. Hops were grown here on a small scale, manually picked and dried in small timber and brick kilns and supplied to local beer producers.
Ellendale is located in the upper reaches of the Derwent Valley, above the larger hop growing areas in the region. Hop growing increased in popularity here from the 1870s with 42 growers being listed by 1910. Hop kilns of various sizes have been built in this area, some of which are still standing today.
The brewing of the 2012 Cascade First Harvest Ale will be celebrated with the third annual First Harvest Party at the Cascade Visitors Centre in May 2012, the week the vintage beer will be release for sale.
The 11th anniversary release of Cascade First Harvest will be available for a limited time only from the first week of May at selected retailers nationally including Dan Murphy’s, First Choice and Vintage Cellars.
RRP: $19.99 per 375ml four-pack. Each 375ml bottle contains 1.6 standard drinks/5.5% ABV.
Cascade Brewery Co is one of Australia’s most iconic beer brands, its diverse range of brews holding a significant place in Australia’s brewing history. All Cascade beers are brewed the traditional way, from a brewing team with handcrafted credentials, and with a commitment to providing Australians with refreshing and approachable beers that offer great value and availability.
To become a fan of Cascade on Facebook search for Cascade Brewery or follow Cascade on Twitter – @cascadebrewery.
Cascade launched a free iPhone app, the Brewer’s Nose, featuring more than 600 Australian and international brews and is a one stop guide for any beer fan with tasting notes, food matches and information on the art and tradition of brewing. Search Brewer’s Nose in the Apple App Store to download the app free.