Hops. Drink Them Fresh OK?

Cultists – I have a confession to make but it’ll come as a surprise to few.

I love hops.

I love all the diversity that all styles of craft beer offers but right now, hops give me the challenge I crave as a brewer.

The challenge lies not only in getting the hop flavour and aroma out of a beer that I want to present to you but more importantly, making sure you enjoy the beer as I intended whenever and wherever you may be.

You see, all those beautiful hop flavour and aroma compounds in your beer are very, very delicate.  It doesn’t matter if the hop character is dank, piney, citrusy, tropical, herbal or grassy because for the most part, those flavours are derived from something that is perishable.

This means that your hoppy beer is also perishable…..and it deserves to be treated as such.  Like milk….or lettuce? Yes lettuce.

In my opinion, the enemies of hop flavour and aroma are:

  • Light
  • Heat
  • Oxygen
  • Time

IMAG0003Oxygen is probably the biggest enemy of hoppy beer.  Have you ever tasted a beer containing oxidised hops? Remember sticking your tongue on a 9 volt battery as a kid?

That.

(BTW I’m not exactly taking one for the team here as all I could find was this crappy Eveready black C-size battery lol)

On one occasion, I was at a venue (which shall remain nameless because it wasn’t the venue’s fault whatsoever) for a tap takeover type event of imported hoppy beers.  Every beer on tap displayed varying levels of hop oxidation and when that happens, all the beers wind up tasting the same.

Yet all around me the punters at this venue were raving about how awesome all the hoppy beers were.

This left me thinking, “Do the people here actually think hoppy beers are supposed to taste like this?”

Then it dawned upon me, if these people have tasted nothing else but oxidised hops then have they been conditioned to believe that this is what hops are supposed to smell and taste like?

If this is the case, then that would be sad indeed.

Stewarding at the AIBA judging a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to wax lyrical with self confessed “Fresh Freak” Brendan Varis of Feral (who has taken his Tusk IIPA national under strict conditions) and Luke Nicholas of NZ’s Epic Beer.  Whilst we talked about the ways in which the hops deteriorate in beer and how quickly that can happen, the message I took away was making sure that as a brewer, you do everything you can to get your product to the consumer as fresh as possible.

My commitment to you is to get all BrewCult hoppy beers to you as fast and as fresh as possible.  I have contracted a sizable quantity of Simcoe – it’s really hard to get here in Australia. It would be a shame to let it go ‘9 volt’.

Your commitment to ‘The Cult’ is to never cellar a hoppy BrewCult beer (it’ll say so on the label), store it cold and dark and most importantly, enjoy fresh.

So, if you want to know what fresh Simcoe, Nelson Sauvin & Galaxy hops smell and taste like, I encourage you to come along to the Hop Zone Session IPA launch at The Royal Standard Hotel on 15 May 2013 at 6pm.  What a great way to warm up for Good Beer Week.

And if you’re a craft beer distributor who shares my vision for getting awesome hoppy beer fresh as possible to the masses on an ongoing basis, talk to me.

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