Matt Walsh loves our hops.
The San Diego brewer has been using New Zealand hops since 2003. He was in the country last week, sampling local beers and trying to scrounge as much New Zealand hops as he could get. He attended the Dunedin Craft Beer Festival last Saturday, and collaborated with Garage Project.
“There’s definitely a trend here towards some things that I’d call old hat at home – chili-spiced things, teas. It’s already been done, but it’s new here and it’s tasting good which is the relevant part. I had a lot of good beers – ParrotDog, Garage Project, Funk Estate.
“The tropical notes and the floral components are so unique. If we could grow them at home we would, but we just can’t. Motueka is just juicy. Nelson Sauvin has that dank character and a white wine depth of flavour, muskiness.
“I just bought two tons and we pay dearly for it – $23 for a pound. We can get US hops for half of that. I’ve spoken at dinners and tap takeovers and events and I’ve literally asked everyone in the audience if they know someone who can get us access to more. We would literally take all we would buy. I’ve even met the US Embassy here to talk about ways we can invest in hop growing here.”
Matt says Modern Times is set to produce 2.3 million L of craft beer this year, after just two and a half years in production.
“Hopefully next year we will be doing 35,000 barrels (4+ million L). We’re built for growth from the start. That selected the property we’re in, the equipment. We surpassed our five-year plan after 18 months. In the big scheme of things we are still a small player – Ballast Point is literally 500 times the size we are.”
Modern Times describes many of it’s beers as hybrid styles, combining the features we like from established categories to create new, Island-of-Doctor-Moreau-style mash ups.
“Export represents about five percent of our volume and that number will probably stay fixed even as our volume increases,” Matt says. “Priority one is our own back yard. We sell about 75% of our beer in San Diego and about 20% in other parts of California.
“We’re very fussy about who we export through. Our beer has to be looked after every step of the way to the customer. If we hadn’t been assured of all that we would never have sent beer over here. We don’t need the sales but thought New Zealand was a cool market.”
Matt visited New Zealand as a guest of Beer Without Borders. BeertownNZ interviewed Matt as a guest of Hashigo Zake. Cheers!