There are plenty more on the way too with Malthouse holding a Fresh Hop Showcase event from noon on Friday 22 April 2016 (this Friday). When Ciaran the baritone, bankable and bathymetrical Malthouse unit manager first told me about the Showcase he listed around half a dozen participating beers. As of today, that number is thirteen [1] but it might go up [2] or it might go down. [3]

Whatever happens, Ciaran described the selection as a “chur to chur chur churrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr list,” and then called me “lad”. Strangely, it was not even the oddest email I received this morning.

I’m going to cast my undoubtedly pretty but generally ineffective eyes over the beer list and give some first thoughts with the obvious caveat that many of the beers are going to be completely new to me (and indeed most people as they have just come out). There is also the distinct chance that some of the beers have changed flavour profiles over a short period of time as fresh hops are generally more volatile than their kilned cousins.

Liberty Alpha Lord Imperial Pilsner – I tried this fine libation at the excellent Great Kiwi Beer Festival in Christchurch during the rare times I was not buying Liberty trucker caps or drinking Epic Stone Hammer. Think Liberty Halo Pilsner if it was trained by the Russian Athletics Federation. It retains drinkability while flaunting its heavy hopping. Sadly, it is unclear if Joseph Wood will brew it again as the interwebs were broken on brew day and he actually had to make up a recipe. 

Golden Bear Green Hop IPA – The boys at Golden Bear have a strong track record of making hoppy American Pale Ales so I would expect a quality drop here. Actual name may differ.

Hop Federation Fresh Hopped Cedric XPA – I was initially sceptical about the “XPA” style as it seemed like it had been made up by marketers who had just read a tweet about how the letter X was so hot right now. However, I’ve enjoyed all the ones I have had and this one packs in extra fresh local Nelson hops.

House of Nicholas Fresh Hop Sarah IPA – This is a regular collaborative brew between Luke Nicholas (Epic) and Simon Nicholas (Hop Federation). It is a very English style IPA with Simon seemingly able to tame (comparatively) the Impish Brewer’s love of US hops. At first glance, Hop Zombie or Stone Hammer may have seemed more promising for fresh hopping but:

1)    They are already incredibly hoppy beers so the fresh hops might have been overwhelmed.

2)    They are already incredibly expensive beers and there has to be a price point somewhere, even amongst the hippest of beer consumers.

The more muted English style hop profile of Sarah will allow the fresh hops to shine through.

Sprig & Fern Harvest Pilsner – Despite Ciaran’s message saying they were pouring “Sprig&fern-harvest planer” [4] I am close to 100% certain this is the beer – not least because I’ve drunk several delicious pints up in the foothills of the mighty Thorndon Mountains. Sprig & Fern have been releasing various fresh hopped beers for a few years now and I’ve never had a bad one. That Tracey Banner is a talented brewer.

Baylands WaiFly 3 & WaiFly Supersonic– This is the third edition of Baylands popular annual Waifly fresh hop release. Of course, if it was a Star Wars film it would be the sixth instalment which is just confusing. [5] Martin Craig from Beertown blogged about Baylands Waifly III saying “it’s big, fresh, distinct. This is my favourite (so far!) and a favourite with several of the brewers on last night’s junket.” [6] So I can’t wait to try the Supersonic

Tuatara also has two offers with their established Tuatara Conehead Fresh Hop Ale from Paraparaumu and the debut of Tuatara The Third Eye from their central Wellington plant. A few commentators have felt the hops overall were a bit muted this harvest but The Third Eye is getting strong reviews with one calling it “so fresh, so green.”

Choice Brothers Petrichor Seasonal Fresh Wet Hop Ale (2016) – Obviously I was intrigued about the concept of a Seasonal Fresh Wet Hop Ale but also the name Petrichor. It was not a term I was familiar with and that’s pretty unusual as I spend my working life with words. Fortunately, the interwebs were working today [7] and they revealed Petrichor is “a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.” I’m going to try and use that in conversation soon.

Te Aro Kermit’s Revenge New Zealand Pale Ale – This is a modest 4.7% Kiwi ale and made with Cascade, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin hops. It is a classic hop cocktail for a reason.

Fork Brewing Champagne Supernova – I’m pretty sure I am not the only person who has sung an order for this beer to less than bemused bar staff. My singing was so bad I ended up with a bottle of Lindauer and a flaming Jaeger Bomb… When I did successfully get the drink (by apologising and ordering in a normal, non-musical way) I found it hugely refreshing, a standout nose and clever use of Brettanomyces which provides more quenching tartness than harsh sourness or the distinctly non-Petrichor aromas of the southern end of a north bound rhinoceros.

Renaissance Grandmaster (2016) – An enormous Fresh Hop Double IPA made with 100% Southern Cross picked near the Blenheim brewery. The Renaissance boys have a fine track record of “going big” on beers and I’ve enjoyed earlier versions of this base beer.

Zeelandt Brewing Pulling Cones – I’m seeing the Zeelandt range in more places which is a promising sign for a still relatively new brewery. Beyond its double meaning name, I know little about this beer which is something I will have to rectify soon – if only there was a Showcase of Fresh Hopped beers…

There is a minor change to Malthouse’s opening hours this weekend because of ANZAC Day. They will shut early on Sunday but will be open on Monday afternoon.

Next time we drink to Michael Bolton, the singer, for his remade Office Space scene. In it, he (Michael Bolton the singer) takes the place of Michael Bolton (the ITI guy with an unfortunate name). Bolton was very funny and I had no idea he could be funny – at all. And Office Space is one of my favourite films of all time.

[1] Unlucky for some – probably all the hops used in the making of all these beers

[2] If new brewers want in, or Ciaran has made a rare keg related counting error. This only happens when his abacus is broken…

[3] If a participating brewer wakes up on Friday afternoon and thinks “I’m sure I had to send a keg of something somewhere this week…”

[4] Ciaran the baritone, bankable and bathymetrical Malthouse unit manager’s new “smart” phone is still “learning” his predictive text “style”

[5] Rumours of Star Wars themed beers for May the Fourth (#maythefourthbewithyou) have reached my partially operational battle station. Many Bothans died to bring me this information. Bothans appear to be terrible spies…

[6] I’m sure he meant to say “important and totally legitimate research field trip.”



Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Beer and Brewer Magazine

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine

New Zealand Liquor News Magazine


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