Always the innovator, Ben Kraus and his team at Bridge Road Brewery have launched a new mini-festival to show the link between their location and the hop harvest of Australia’s major hop producer.
With beer geeks across their country currently salivating over the arrival of Stone Brewing’s latest ‘Enjoy By’ release in Australia, it seems to be an appropriate time to reflect on the hype factor that hops can bring to beer in the 21st century.
We can’t argue with the general rule that “fresh is best” when it comes to hop forward beers, but when is “fresh” actually fresh, and why is the seemingly inflated level of praise that is bestowed on some American beers for their hop profile not also granted to any of the fine fresh hopped beers made in Australia?
Many, if not most, craft beers are made with hops that have been palatalised and shipped from overseas, then stored cold for some time, because true fresh (wet) hops are only available for a very short time during a short period of the year. And let’s not start on the use of isomerised hop extract. So how much weight can we really impart on a beer’s release when there are many wonderfully flavoursome and excellently made hop forward beers released at all times of the year?
Tasting Stone’s limited ‘Enjoy By’ within it’s prescribed date range may be one way to test the worthiness of the hop hype. Attending this High Country Hops Festival may be another way to discover whether it’s really all about the hops or whether the time, place and environment make for a beer worthy of fuss.
For any readers who do both, we’d love to hear your thoughts on drinking fresh by numbers and drinking fresh by location. [Ed.]
Bridge Road Brewers announce inaugural High Country Hops Festival
This event is totally new for Beechworth and the region and is one that brings together like minded craft brewers and the growers of that all important ingredient, Hops.
The festival will be held outdoors as a carpark festival, directly behind the brewery next to our new warehouse and bottling facility.
With Hops at its core the carpark festival will also feature local food producers, musicians, performers, children’s activities and even a chance to try your hand at some archery.
We will be bringing together the four brewer of the High Country Brewery Trail, who all share strong links with each other and our locally grown hops from Rostrevor.
James Davidson from Bright Brewery says “With our brewery located so close to one of Australia’s primary hop growing plantations, we take great pride in using the hop varieties that have been developed and grown within our own neighbourhood.
“The characterful hops of the Ovens Valley provide a truly local flavour and authenticity to our Bright Brewery beers, and this festival will be a showcase of how each of the region’s breweries use the local hops to create a unique and diverse range of modern beers that pair perfectly with our high country home.”
Hop Products Australia (HPA) are also supporting the festival, opening the doors of their Rostrevor garden and processing facility for an official tour. A bus trip will be leaving the Bridge Road Brewery carpark on Saturday morning to give craft beer lovers an insight into the hops they love so much.
Rostrevor Hop Garden has a huge history in the Ovens Valley, and has been an integral part of the regions productivity since the 1890s. We want to celebrate the fact that we have this awesome resource on our doorstep, and thank the guys that do the hard work in developing and growing the hops varieties that make our beers more exciting.
The Rostrevor bus trip and tour will be hosted by Owen Johnson of HPA, who added “This is a great opportunity to celebrate the hop harvest, visit the farm and get a feel for the link between paddock and pint.
We are excited about supporting the High Country brewers, and being part of this festival”.
Extract from the HPA website:
“When the Panlook Brothers first started growing hops here in the 1890s, business was tough. There was a theory going around that Australian hops weren’t suitable for making beer. Things have changed a bit since then.
“At the foothills of Mount Buffalo National Park in the small hamlet of Eurobin, Rostrevor grows hops for brewers across Australia and around the world. There are 185 hectares dedicated to hops. It’s a magical place, nestled in the Victorian Alps beside a sweeping bend of the Ovens River. The perfect spot to enjoy a fine ale after a hard day’s farming.
“Allan Monshing is our Rostrevor Farm Manager. Hops are in Allan’s blood. His forebears have been involved in hop production in the Ovens Valley for generations.
“Schooled in the art of hop production by his father Reg, Allan is rightly proud of his family’s work, and is known for a good ‘hop talk’ with anyone who’s even half as passionate about hops as he is.”
For those wanting to travel from Melbourne we also have you covered.
The High Country Brewers have also partnered with Melbourne’s Gertrude Hotel who will be running a weekend tour to the region to coincide with the event.
Those who are keen to jump aboard and be ferried between hop gardens and breweries should contact Leo at the Gertrude Hotel.