Hop Products Australia has today announced the commercialisation of experimental variety HPA-016 as Eclipse, the latest hop to graduate from its breeding program.
Eclipse® is described as “a big-hitting, fruit-forward flavour hop”, “bursting with sweet mandarin, zesty citrus peel and fresh pine needles.”
Eclipse joins HPA’s portfolio of Australian-bred flavour varieties that already includes Galaxy®, Vic Secret™, Ella™ and Enigma®.
HPA Sales and Marketing Manager, Owen Johnston, said Eclipse is currently only available in commercial quantities for the Australian market but will start to reach the rest of the world in from the 2021 crop.
“We will be up at about 35-40 tonnes [from the 2021 crop]. That is enough to really cater for the emerging demand here in Australia and start market seeding in international markets,” he said.
“Galaxy was commercialised at six tonnes, and we’re commercialising this at 25 tonnes this year and 40 tonnes next year, so we’re multiples ahead of where we started with Galaxy®.
“And Galaxy pulled heavy brewer demand from the moment of commercialisation, so we were always playing catch up.”
To avoid the same shortages Johnston said HPA has developed a strategy around Eclipse.
“We’ve actually got a growth trajectory, and it’s going to be our third biggest hop behind Galaxy and Vic Secret within the next four years.”
He said HPA was confident in its growth plans as it hasn’t seen a response pre-release as strong as it has with Eclipse®.
“And how do you honour that? You back it up with production.”
Origins of Eclipse
Johnston said Eclipse was first developed by HPA’s hop breeding program in 2004, a sister to the grower’s leading Galaxy variety.
“It’s got the same mum as Galaxy, and was bred through a targeted cross-pollination with a high-alpha Australian male.”
Learn more about HPA’s latest hop variety and how brewers are using it on the BreweryPro podcast.
HPA can trace the ancestry of Eclipse® back to 1915 with generations of cross-pollination featuring varieties such as Fuggle, Brewer’s Gold, Comet and Pride of Ringwood in the uniquely Australian environment.
The hop first entered trials when Ben Kraus used it in Bridge Road’s Dark Harvest collaboration with Mikkeller in 2012.
Interestingly, the hop now known as Eclipse was once second to another experimental variety, HPA-035.
“We were pushing HPA-035,” Johnston said, “and Eclipse® was a second string to that.”
“And we tried to commercialise HPA-035 but we just didn’t get that overwhelming excitement out of the trade.
“We had tonnage of HPA-035 for a couple of years, and we didn’t take a single contract on it. And yet we kept presenting it for a couple of years in sizeable quantities.”
“In contrast to HPA-035, the response was passionate and commercial,” Johnston says.
“People were raving about it and putting their money down. So we knew we had a winner straight up.”
Johnston said it’s all part of the challenge of hop breeding.
“We are in the hub of innovation in hop agriculture. HPA are the ones doing the selections at the grassroots level,” he said.
“The team in charge of our breeding program need to make decisions to progress or not to progress different cultivars, and yet we can’t be telling brewers what’s great and what’s not great.
“They have to then actually take it out in the brewery and road test it, and we need to listen to that feedback.”
“And I’ll tell you what, feedback on Eclipse® has just been outrageous.
“Just constant iterations of that kind of feedback coming back, which we never got with got our market test of HPA-035.”
Launch mixed carton
To celebrate the commercialisation of Eclipse®, HPA has teamed up with Beer Cartel and a range of local breweries to create a special mixed pack. The pack includes 12 limited edition beers from the likes of Blasta, Deeds, Moo Brew, Mountain Culture, Mr Banks, Newstead and Two Birds that will showcase Eclipse®.
HPA says Eclipse® sits firmly in the fruit quadrant of its Hop Flavour Spectrum making it well suited to fruit-forward beer styles.
Ash Hazell, Head of Brewing at Colonial Brewing Co, used Eclipse® back when it was still known as experimental hop HPA-016.
At that time he described Eclipse® as “really unique” for an Australian hop.
“As soon as I got it in my hands and smelt it, I knew I had to make an IPA out of this,” he told Brews News is 2018.”
“The beer came out with this really delicate bitterness, really quite a clean finish, with an orange marmalade type character with lighter tropical fruit notes on top of it.
“To get that kind of complexity out of a single hop was pretty impressive.”
Want to learn more about the long process of breeding hops and bringing them to market? Brews News’ Matt Kirkegaard headed down to Hop Products Australia’s Bushy Park Estate in Tasmania to chat with hop breeder Dr Simon Whittock and learn about the process of developing the hops that have changed the face of beer…