Picked once a year in March, HPA says fresh hops “close the gap between paddock and pint with the freshest hops possible”.
Sales and Marketing Manager for HPA Owen Johnston said that the Green Hop Program isn’t necessarily all about the beers.
“It’s a great way for us to bring a whole new level of focus onto hops in general.
“We want to bring our brewers, who bring along their customers, into our experience and our world of growing and the effort that goes into processing.
“It’s about bringing people closer to what we do.”
The 2019 Green Hop harvest will showcase Cascade, Ella, Enigma and Galaxy varieties.
Johnston told Brews News that while green hops can be challenging for brewers in terms of its unpredictability, it’s the excitement around brewing these seasonal beers that brings brewers back each year.
Bridge Road Brewers founder and head brewer Ben Kraus said that he has been working closely with HPA using fresh hops for over nine years. He has been brewing Bridge Road’s two wet hop beers, The Harvest and The Dark Harvest, since 2009 and 2012 respectively.
Kraus told Brews News that he also did another special wet-hopped amber beer with Galaxy earlier this year that weighed in at a hefty 7%.
“We did that for Dan Murphy’s. They had a stand at GABS and they wanted a user experience around hops, so we did a limited released of that beer.”
Kraus says that while he loves using the green hops each year, he has found using them to dry hop doesn’t give him the results he is after with the beer exhibiting vegetal hop characters. He said the best technique is to use a giant hop back post boil, before transferring the beer to fermenter.
“It is quite hard and it has taken us a number of years to get the characteristics that we want into the beer,” he said.
“Sometimes brewers have to or feel the need to supplement the wet hop with some dried pellets post fermentation or during fermentation because perhaps they haven’t got everything they needed out of the wet hops.
“They can sometimes be subtle and mild and not have the kick people expect.”
Tasmania’s Moo Brew Brewery is another long-time program participant.
Head brewer Dave Macgill told Brews News that Moo Brew is extremely lucky to be only half an hour away from the hop fields.
“We get them basically the day that we brew the beer, we pick them up in the morning and then we can start the brew and by the time its ready to transfer into fermenters, the hops have been off the vines for less than a couple of hours.”
Macgill said that it’s interesting to play around with how the wet hops have operated through the brewhouse.
“We’ve found that some of the varieties differ considerably, especially their aromatic profiles whilst wet as opposed to when they’re dry.”
Like Kraus, Macgill said that he started off dry hopping with wet hops but also found that there were too many grassy textures in the final brew. He also uses the hop back technique, whereby 70 to 90 kilos of wet hops will go into a single brew.
He said that for the coming harvest, he is “tempted” to brew a lager.
Macgill said that HPA Green Hop Program is an “awful lot of work” for the company and that this “isn’t lost on the brewers who are lucky to have access” to such a program.