Hop Growers Series
Facilitated by the great guys over at Loughran Brewing Stores, this special series of collaborations features some of our favourite hop growers & their innovative contributions to the ingredients that define our beers.
#1 - LET'S DO SOMETHING CLASS
Our first beer in the series features the ‘NZ Revolution Blend’ from Hop Revolution.
Susan Wheeler (Founder and GM of innovation for Hop Revolution):
"So the Revolution Blend is something we decided to do a couple of years ago and, not that we’re trying to take this out of the brewer’s hands or anything, but we liked the idea of mixing up specific lots of individual varieties to create what we almost describe as like a quintessential New Zealand flavour profile.
So in the blend we've got late-picked Nelson Sauvin™, that sort of intense diesel-ey almost sulphur spectrum, mixed with early Motueka™ which we find incredibly bright, and that lifts it quite a lot. We then have a small amount of a Riwaka™ in it because obviously Riwaka™ is a variety you know, many brewers would love to get their hands on and it's hard to produce. So we run enough mass and you get some of those characteristics coming through.
And then it's also got our Pacific Sunrise™ variety in it. So, we’re currently the only grower of that variety in New Zealand. And the more we learn about it, the more we find it's a really complementary hop that adds quite a fruity undertone to other varieties and I like to think of it as an enhancer that helps deliver the expression of the other hops as well."
About Hop Revolution
The story of Hop Revolution is also Susan’s story too. This lady has a PhD in viticulture and 12 years of experience in the wine industry. After years spent in Australia working with wine, Susan was drawn back home to New Zealand by scientific curiosity and a steadfast determination to do something fiercely independent in the spirit of craft. A desire to make New Zealand offer more than just Sauvignon Blanc grapes to the world launched a research project into growing hops in different areas of New Zealand, which quickly grew into a commercial venture and Hop Revolution was born.
What’s been achieved from what was a greenfield site just over 5 years ago has been incredible – Hop Revolution is a purpose built ‘from the ground up’ hop farm spanning well over 250 hectares (over 600 acres) across two hop gardens (Tapawera and Wairua) in the Nelson Tasman region in the Motueka valley.
Find out more on the Hop Revolution website.
#2 - INHERENT TENSION
Our second beer features the brand new ‘Luminosa’ hop from Indie Hops, alongside a special selection of Strata.
The Strata hops used in this beer are the first that we at Boundary had the chance to select ourselves. Selecting hops involves rubbing and smelling your way through hop flowers from several different ‘lots’ of the same variety to get an idea of the characteristics on offer in each. Sometimes it’s lots from different farms, sometimes it’s lots from different fields on the same farm. As with any agricultural product, natural variation is part of the deal and the diversity of characteristics between different lots (even from the same farm!) really highlights the value of selection to a brewer. Not only are you able to avoid any lots you dislike, or that have flaws, but you’re able to pick lots that best exemplify the characteristics you love about a particular variety.
Usually breweries have to commit to purchasing huge amounts of a particular variety in order to travel to hop growing regions in America (and other parts of the world) to take part in the selection process. Loughran Brewing Stores, along with several of the growers whose hops they supply, have changed that model in the last few years and opened the door to hop selection for breweries of our small scale. By lowering the barrier to entry and bringing the hops to brewers in the UK & Ireland, Loughran have put the opportunity for hop selection within reach of many more breweries.
Strata is Indie Hops second hop release (2018). Born in 2009, Strata is the progeny of an open pollinated Perle located at an Oregon State University experimental field in Corvallis, Oregon. Strong disease resistance, a vigorous growth habit, and hypnotic layers of flavour have launched Strata into the top echelon of craft IPA hops.
Hard to imagine “taking it to 11” in such an elegant manner. Passionfruit, melon, strawberry, grapefruit, rock concert cannabis and dried chilli peppers. Hard to resist.
Some kids turn out to be improvements on their parents—thank God! In 2013, hop breeder Shaun Townsend at Oregon State University decided to collect some open pollinated seed from a Sorachi Ace female. Hallelujah! We found a kid with mom’s striking citrus character that also took up fresh tropical fruits—AND managed to leave mom’s less desirable traits behind.
The bright fresh fruits of Luminosa make us feel transported to the sunny white sands of a Caribbean beach, and inspired the name which is Latin for “full of brightness.” Peach-mango lemonade, candied orange peel, boysenberry, papaya and guava can all be found. Unlike most “punchy” hops, Luminosa is almost completely void of the resinous/piney character that usually comes along for the ride—adding to the versatility of this hop.
About Indie Hops
In 2008, the hop industry didn’t give much thought to craft breweries. Global brewing companies dominated beer markets, and even craft breweries were largely fueled by hop scraps that fell from global brewery selection tables.
We were in Oregon, and craft breweries had already become important to most communities here. It felt like a cultural movement, and state by state protectionist laws were faltering under the will of the people. Craft would spread, we believed, and they’d need their own hops.
Roger majored in law at UT in Austin, with a minor in Shiner Bock. Jim majored in Anchor Steam at Stanford, with a minor in Economics. In the ’70s, we were snot-nosed kids in Corvallis, Oregon sneaking into Oregon State events and running from the campus police. Was it possible that we could supply Oregon hops to the craft beer industry, and maybe even get OSU involved? We had the combined experience and resources to give it a go, so we did.
We took three major steps in the very beginning:
- We struck an agreement with OSU where we funded a hop breeding and research effort that would feed new genetic material into our own hop development program.
- We also built Oregon’s first hop pellet mill, engineered for the craft market.
- We established relationships with two outstanding Oregon hop growers.
And so we set out to be hop suppliers to craft breweries.