Our Head Brewer Simon, spent ten days in Australia exploring the beer scene and hop farms.
Heading on from Melbourne, my next stop was Tasmania which was absolutely stunning! The second hop farm was nestled about an hour outside of Hobart in a place called Bushy Park.
Interestingly, of the 1000 tonnes of hops produced at Bushy Park over the 255-hectare site, only 3 tonnes are in flower format. 1 tonne for the American market and 2 for the British market.
Between the 2 sites (Rostrevor and Bushy Park), Hop Products Australia grows 95% of all of the hops produced in Australia. Rostrevor specialising in Vic Secret, Topaz and Cascade, with Enigma specific to Bushy Park. Both growing Galaxy, Ella and Super Pride (alpha).
Farming hops for 153 years the 2 farms have been owned by various different companies/breweries more recently Fosters from the 60’s up until 1987.
Both sites grew minimal varieties in a rather one-dimensional market purely for the purposes of alpha – Pride of Ringwood (superseded by) Super Pride and Cluster.
In 1987 Barth Haas purchased both sites and began a variety development program. It can take years to get a new variety off the ground. For example, Galaxy, as mentioned in my previous post, didn’t start in the development program until 1994 but wasn’t commercially released until 2008. Even then there was only 500 Kg available globally.
There are 2 rivers running through Tasmania (Derwent and Styx) and It’s no accident the farm is situated where the two convergence. Set up by Shoobridge in 1866 he was considered as somewhat of an industrialist.
With the infrastructure he built, it allowed not only hops to be kilned, processed and packaged but fruits to be processed, stored and packaged. Ultimately changing the fortunes of Tasmania for the better.
The whole farm is fully operational for 6 weeks increasing from 20-30 full-time staff to 130 at peak time harvest. It’s then dormant for the rest of the year housing the 35 tractors, 8 large top cutters and an assorted array of bottom cutter, trailers and 4×4’s.
The quality of the product was overwhelming. The length of time from having the bottom bine cut and taken for processing (no greater than 2 hours to manage scorching and moisture content) to it being milled and vacuum packed is astonishing.
The pride, care, and love of the raw material everyone demonstrated from harvesting and processing to packaging, handling, storage, and distribution was inspirational and gives an enormous amount of trust that when we use them they have been treated as well as possible. This last piece sounds like a marketing pamphlet from Simply Hops I know, but it was genuinely inspirational!
Big thanks to Simply Hops for planning, arranging and inviting us on their Aussie hops harvest tour!