Fresh hop beers are not just for big brewers with the right connections.
No way – small brewers with the right connections can brew them too.
The New Zealand Fresh Hop Home Brew Competition final is being judged tomorrow, with almost 50 entrants from Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. The comp is organised by three home brew suppliers – Finney’s Homebrew Emporium, Brewtopia, and Home Brew West.
Brewtopia’s Karl Hayes says most entries are made with commercial hop varieties, but a few home brewers are growing their own.
“Hops is a creeper and quite pretty. Growing wild you’ll get Sticklebract, Smoothcone – which is a bit like Green Bullet – and a few other variants. Then there’s wild hops growing in a few areas around Wellington that I know of, probably plenty growing further afield as well.
“But if you want to use Cascade or Motueka, Nelson Sauvin and the like, you’ll have to through New Zealand Hops. We agree to purchase a certain amount every year and we pass those on to home brewers. They’re freighted overnight in a chilled truck and dropped off at Kereru's brewery in Upper Hutt. We go and collect our allocation, bring them back here to the shop, and we would hope they are all collected that day. If they’re chilled throughout they would be good for a week from picking, then they start to go brown and smelling a bit cheesy.”
Karl says using fresh hops successfully means knowing how to adjust your recipe. Weight-for-weight, fresh hops have lower rates of the all-important hop oils, so they’re best used after the boil.
“Fresh green hops need five times as much by weight as pellet hops”, Karl estimates. “I guess the most popular thing is to use them in the whirlpool. When you do your flameout, chuck the fresh hops in, stir, and rest for 20-30 minutes.”
The alternative is dry-hopping in the fermenter. “I would dry-hop for four or five days. Any longer and you’ll get dank, grassy, chlorophyll flavours which won’t do your beer any favours.”
Judging happens tomorrow Friday 15 April with Kelly Ryan (Fork Brewing), Kerry Gray (Te Aro/Choice Bros) and Martin Craig (Beertown.NZ). Public welcome, 3-5pm, Brewtopia, 130 Tory St, Wellington