Bintani Australia has created its own proprietary blend of five different hops, an unprecedented move for a hop supplier, which founder Pete Meddings considers one of his career’s proudest achievements.
Bintani has the global exclusive rights to the new hop, dubbed ‘Fortnight’, created from a blend of five U.S. varieties: Some highly sought after, some quiet achievers and even an experimental hop.
The product has been made possible by Bintani’s longstanding relationship with YCH Hops, the Washington State co-operative owned by some of North America’s leading hop growers.
“We’ve had a really great relationship with them, and for quite a few years we’ve been discussing doing a unique hop blend purely to our specifications,” Bintani founder Pete Meddings told Australian Brews News.
“It’s the first time they’ve put together a project like this for a customer, in the way they have for us.”
Bintani settled on the favoured blend of five different varieties following rigorous trials at YCH’s Yakima hop processing facility.
“The whole idea was to create something greater than the sum of its parts,” Meddings said.
“We wanted to get all the great aspects of the US hops that we love and put them in one package, and try to minimise the attributes that can overpower the palate and detract from the overall balance.
“I love the citrus, I love the pine, I love the clean bitterness that you get from a lot of these US hops.
“I didn’t want too much ‘dankness’ or cloying bitterness, and I also wanted to steer away from the diesel or petroleum character that you occasionally get from excessive hopping.
“We wanted a really clean, tidy, balanced hop that delivers a complete spectrum of hop flavours, without a particularly obvious flavour peak that pigeonholed it,” Meddings said.
The result is a dual purpose hop that could dramatically simplify the hop bill of a beer, according to Bentspoke Brewing Co’s Richard Watkins.
“I think we’ll use it in a new beer, or we’ll replace three hops we use in an existing beer, because it will marry in perfectly,” he told Australian Brews News.
The Canberra brewery was first to use Fortnight in its newly released single hop brew titled ‘Two Weeks’.
Bentspoke founder Richard Watkins was offered the opportunity to be the first to brew with Fortnight, an acknowledgement of his part in getting Bintani into hops well over a decade earlier.
“We’ve always been good friends with Richard, beyond a customer and supplier relationship,” Meddings explained.
“Back in 2002, we were doing malt and we were doing yeast, but we weren’t doing hops.
“Richard, who was then brewing at the Wig & Pen, rang us up and said, ‘I’ve heard about these Yakima hops from the US, I want some. Can you get them in?’,” Meddings recalls.
An initial 40kg air freight order impressed not only Richard but the Wig and Pen clientele, marking the start of what is now a 15-year long partnership for Bintani and YCH Hops.
Watkins put his sneak preview to good use, putting Fortnight through its paces via a series of hop additions in the kettle, whirlpool and the fermenter, where dry hopping was done with both zero and seven day additions.
“The whole goal was to showcase the hop. We decided to make a lager instead of an ale to try and reduce the ester component, that would potentially corrupt the flavour and aroma,” Watkins said.
Delivering a positive verdict, the Bentspoke brewer says Fortnight delivers strong grapefruit character in the foreground, with subtle undertones of pineapple and apricot.
Meddings said Bintani had arrived at the name Fortnight because it was a word that had initially confounded their friends at YCH Hops.
“It goes back to when the US gained its independence and the word ‘fortnight’ quickly dropped out of their vocabulary,” he said.
Despite vanishing in the US, Fortnight remains a common word in the Australian vernacular.
“It fits really well with what we’re trying to do with this hop. Australia has developed its own unique interpretation of American hops into beers that best suit our lifestyle and climate,” said Meddings.
“We are confident that Fortnight delivers a profile that showcases these great aspects of US hops, and might even spark some interest with our brewing friends back in the states.”
Meddings said Fortnight is, “probably the biggest thing I’ve done professionally, apart from kicking off Bintani Australia”.
“To have such a relationship as that which we have developed with YCH Hops is absolutely incredible. It shows a lot of faith in us,” he said.
“The hop growers that own YCH are an incredibly passionate group of people. They’re incredibly proud of the product they produce and they love seeing it go into great beers.
“We go over there and take examples of the Australian beers that their hops are going into and they’re just absolutely rapt, and they’re excited every time they get to meet the Aussie brewers that are using their product.”
In welcome news for brewers wrestling with the US hop shortage, Meddings said Bintani has several tonnes of Fortnight arriving in Australia this month and it will be freely available to all brewers.
Win The Ultimate Fortnight
To celebrate the release of Fortnight, Bintani is running a competition for brewers to win The Ultimate Fortnight.
The prize will be a two week trip starting in Portland, Oregon, then taking in the hop harvest in Yakima, where they will tour the YCH facilities.
The lucky winner will then depart from Seattle for a week in Germany taking in the Bavaria and Hallertau regions, finishing in Munich for the Drinktec Trade Show and opening day of Oktoberfest.
Full details of the competition will be announced in March.
For further information, email [email protected] or phone 03 8587 9888.