HPA innovates hop launch with mixed pack
To debut its latest proprietary variety Eclipse, Hop Products Australia has launched a mixed pack of 12 single-hop beers from brewers across the country.
Owen Johnson at HPA said that the usual route to market for a new hop variety is to take it to trade shows and feature beers there which have been brewed with it, with an often limited supply of it initially.
“It was a really unsatisfactory process,” he said.
“Instead, we wanted to try and wrangle a dozen brewers to do a collaboration pack and use that to reach out to more brewers than we could at these tradeshows, by sending out 140 cartons to our customer base, to brewers via Beer Cartel.
“It gives people in breweries who have their hand on the reins of product strategy and recipe formation to try this hop and get that sensory datapoint and feel for what the hop can do in a dozen different styles from a dozen different breweries.
“If we can get this in front of beer drinkers and not just brewers we will have addressed that grassroots perspective too.
“In that way, all these pieces combined address all segments of the market who we want to make aware of Eclipse.”
Each brewer was given free rein to use the hop in whatever style and technique they thought most appropriate. A mixed pack will be sent out to another 140 breweries and media outlets, with 400 available to customers as well as subscribers to the Beer Cartel Beer Club.
Richard Kelsey, director at Beer Cartel, said that the pack was a really innovative way to launch a hop.
“When you think about new hops, people don’t really know the huge process that goes into developing them,” he said.
“But through this we can draw attention to it and use it as an education tool, to not only learn about everything that goes into commercialising the hops but also the characteristics.
“It’s exciting that you do get the opportunity to educate people,” Kelsey said.
Brewers have certainly taken a liking to Eclipse. DJ McCready, head brewer at Mountain Culture said that they were nervous using it for the first time.
“Smelling it out of the bag, it doesn’t hit you in the face. We were worried, but it really shines once it’s in the beer,” he told Brews News.
“It has this really different tropical twist to it, and it’s got a bit of earthiness to it. We’ve used it in two beers so far, the Eclipse mixed pack version High Tides and our mid-strength beer.”
Mountain Culture’s High Tides beer is a NEIPA, in keeping with the brewery’s most popular styles.
“The High Tides beer is a big dumb NEIPA, it’s got a lot going on and we thought it would be fun,” McCready explained.
“It’s the style we’re making most of and we thought we should be using it in a style we’re familiar with and we’re using a lot of other HPA hops in that style of beer.
“Using it in our mid-strength shows that even in a light delicate beer the hop can still be used – it has really clean, citrus fruit characteristics without the herbal bitterness like you can get in higher alpha hops.
“It’s another tool in our arsenal to change around the flavours and we want to start getting it into some of our multi-hop beers. We’ve been pretty impressed with it so far.”
Justin Corbitt, head brewer at Deeds Brewing said the team were big fans of Eclipse, having used it last year in a collaboration wheatwine with Rocky Ridge Brewing Co.
“Since then, we’ve been extremely excited to use it again and when HPA offered the opportunity to experiment with it in this box, we were excited to brew solo with it again and give it the soft, hazy treatment backed up by 6.5% abv.
“We really enjoy the pineapple flavour, light pine, and we seem to get a big mandarin hit which is exactly in the right direction,” he said.