Behind the hop harvest

Winemakers wax lyrical about the annual grape harvest, the Vintage. Much focus is given to the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels, and column inches are given to the romance of the picking season.

Beer is a fundamentally different drink to wine in that while wine is made once a year, beer can be made every day. The more prosaic nature of beer has seen the focus shift away from the seasonal nature of it’s ingredients though. As brewers were reminded at the recent Craft Brewers Conference, the industry needs to learn from the wine industry in celebrating the provenance of their product through its ingredients.

“They’ve only got one raw material and my god can they BS about that raw material,” Professor Charlie Bamforth joked in his opening keynote.

“We’ve got malt, hops, yeast and water, just for starters. We can celebrate these things, and so we should celebrate these things.”

While the interest in hop-driven beers has seen growing interest in hop varieties, there is still less understanding about the process of growing hops.

In the lead up to the 2017 Hop Harvest, Australian Brews News’ Matt Kirkegaard spent some time with Hop Products Australia’s Dr Simon Whittock to learn about what happens to the hop cones in the lead up to harvest.

Here’s some of what he learned.

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