With a bold sideways step, NZ Hops has launched the highly-anticipated Nectaron, a hop they believe will take the brewing world by storm.
The hop, previously known as Hort 4337, is described as “oozing” ripe tropical fruit.
NZ Hops chief executive Craig Orr said Nectaron was the “first of many new brands and personalities” the company would release in coming years. Its release comes off the back of NZ Hops rebranding and strategic change of direction.
The hop is a tribute to Ron Beatson, principal scientist (Hop Breeding & Genetics) at Plant and Food research. He has spent a lifetime breeding hops and has seen Hort 4337 emerge over a 16-year period.
Orr said the name is a marriage of Nectar of the Gods, and Beatson’s first name.
“We wanted to pay homage to Ron. Plant and Food Research and the New Zealand hop industry have really put New Zealand on the map globally. So, in the twilight of Ron’s career, we’ve used to him to blend into the trademark.
“It’s nice legacy, a way to honour him for the hard work he’s done over the years.”
Orr said the hop will be in huge demand globally.
“In its advanced trial stages, it has usurped the interest around Nelson Sauvin. We think it’s a quite significant threat in terms of the profile you see in American hops like Citra and Mosaic – it’s an absolute candidate to take over from those guys especially in its own backyard.”
The name veers away from NZ Hops’ recent naming protocol, using towns and villages in the wider Nelson hop-growing region such as Motueka, Riwaka, Waimea, and it comes with what Orr calls a “funky” trademarked logo.
Beatson is chuffed to have the newly-launched hop named after him.
“It’s grown on me and it does roll off tongue – it’s nice they wanted to acknowledge the work I’ve done,” Beatson said.
He and his team bred Nectaron in 2004. It took the best part of a decade after that to see how it performed in the field and how it compared others being trialed at the same time; having great aroma is one thing but it had to grow well, produce a decent yield and then work in brewing trials that started in 2013 on a 50-litre kit at Plant and Food’s Motueka base.
Tracy Banner of Nelson’s Sprig & Fern made the first beer released using the trademarked name, creating Nectaron Pale Ale.
“It’s going to take the world by storm,” Banner said.
“It’s truly amazing aromatic hop, just fantastic. We’ve late-hopped and dry hopped with it and it oozes stonefruit – it’s just peachy.
“I haven’t experienced anything like this hop since Nelson Sauvin came out. It should make a big international impact.”
Andrew Childs of Behemoth is another who loves the pungent fruitiness. He’s used it under its trial name in eight beers, including the recently released Reeferendum, which won the Smith’s IPA challenge in Queenstown earlier this month.
“It is the next big New Zealand hop,” Childs said. “It’s got a really ripe fruit character that smells very close to real fruit. It has characteristics – tropical, really ripe, big and punchy – that I really enjoy.
“It’s good by itself, but I like to pair it with Mosaic or Nelson Sauvin.”
Orr said Nectaron will be available only in New Zealand, Australia and the United States initially and his organisation hoped to deal direct with many breweries wanting it, if only to ensure they understand Nectaron is a trademarked name.
“If they use the word Nectaron we want to see it acknowledged. Like any other brand-led business we want to be able to value our brands.”
Listen to Radio Brews News discuss the considerations that go into selecting a hop for release with Yakima Chief Hops at BrauBeviale last year.