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The people that have done as much as anyone in Oz to introduce drinkers to hops in beer have been playing around a little. Coinciding with this year’s hop harvest, the brewers at Little Creatures attempted an experiment – to see if they could make a green hop version of their flagship Pale Ale by managing to get 100kg of hops from the bines at Bushy Park in Tasmania to their brewery in Fremantle in as short a time and in as good condition as possible. With help from hop growers Hop Products Australia (HPA), they succeeded, with the resulting beer currently on tap at their HQ in Freo and due to be tapped this weekend at the Little Creatures Dining Hall in Melbourne.
“I’d done a beer like this when I worked at Harveys in the UK,” says head brewer Russell Gosling. “We mooted the idea of doing it for a Single Batch release but didn’t know if it was something we could pursue. I had a conversation with Tim Lord [of HPA] asking how feasible it was and he wasn’t too sure so had some questions for a contact in the US about temperatures and how it could be achieved from a logistical point of view. It was a bit of an experiment but we thought we’d give it a go.”
Hops begin to change very quickly once the bines are cut down, hence why when harvested they are transported very quickly to a kiln and dried out, removing around 90 per cent of moisture before being further processed. For a “green hop” beer to be made, the hop cones have to make their way from field to beer as soon as possible. Bridge Road has made beer like this thanks to its proximity to HPA’s farm at Rostrevor, while HPA in Tasmania has done it with Cascade, which is close to their Bushy Park farm.
“HPA had never had to harvest, process, package, refrigerate and air freight in such a short timeframe,” says Russell. “We broke new ground. One of our brewers was sent to collect the hops from the plane but a courier had already collected it. We’d mashed in at 4am that morning to make sure the wort was ready for their arrival. It was an amazing day.”
All 100kg of the hops went into the hopback, the section of the brewery through which the wort passes late in the brewing process before making its way to the fermentation tanks. A typical batch of Pale Ale uses 25kg of hops, but because of the additional moisture content in the fresh flowers, this was scaled up massively.
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