17 April 2014

They’re tasting our hops - there

Kieran Haslett-Moore

30/11/2011 10:39:00 a.m.

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Beer
NEW ZEALAND hops are gaining a reputation around the world for the exotic and unique flavours and aromas. New Zealand hops have long been valued around the world because of the low levels of insecticide and fungicides used in their production and the high levels of alpha acids that they contain. Alpha acid is the element in hops which gives them bitterness.  The more alpha acid a hop contains the less a brewer needs to use to achieve the desired level of bitterness.
For mainstream brewers who primarily want to inject a moderate level of balancing bitterness rather than flavour and aroma from their hops, high alpha hops are highly prized.  Craft brewers on the other hand tend to value the original and exotic flavours and aromas that different hop varieties can offer.
It is this second use of hops in brewing which is really driving the demand for New Zealand hops at the moment. Craft brewers in Australia, the United Kingdom, Continental Europe and North America are all waking up to what New Zealand hops can offer.  
Now and then beers brewed with New Zealand  hops make their way back to New Zealand. A couple of months ago I wrote of the Buxton beers from the North of England which are now available in NZ, (brewer James Kemp uses a lot of NZ hops in his beers). Occasionally we get the seasonal hoppy Southern Hop Harvest Ale from California’s Sierra Nevada Brewery which uses air freighted New Zealand hops fresh from the harvest.  
Currently on the shelves around town we have Humming Ale from San Francisco’s Anchor Brewery. Humming Ale is an American Pale Ale which combines a big Nelson Sauvin hop character with a very American pale biscuity malt profile. I’m always intrigued to taste how brewers from other countries use our hops and this is a particularly good example.
Aromas of citrus, passionfruit and melon give way to a zesty palate and a lingering grassy bitter finish.  Humming Ale is a seasonal beer which is brewed to commemorate the opening of Anchors current brewery which they moved into in 1979. I suggest grabbing one and comparing it with any of the locally produced beers that highlight New Zealand hops. Cheers
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