Every year there’s a rush to get the freshest hops out of the gardens and into the beer.

The flavour compounds in hops are oils, and are highly volatile. The sooner the hops reach the beer, the more flavour they can add. As soon as they are plucked off the bine they start to fade, as the lightest of the oils start to evaporate.

So producing a fresh hop beer is a minor miracle of luck, timing, weather, logistics and early morning starts. The fact that Wellington is about to experience Hopstock 2019, with 32 fresh hop beers on tap all around the region, is a major miracle. Hopstock 2019 kicks off next week from Wednesday 1 May.

Lion introduced fresh hop beers to New Zealand in 2006. Working at the now-defunct Mac’s Brewery on Wellington’s waterfront, brewer Colin Paige gave us Brewjolais as beer’s equivalent of Beaujolais nouveau, the first, freshest wine to be released after every French grape harvest.

This year the Malthouse’s Hopstock guest brewer is Mean Doses Brewery. It’s appropriate, given that Hopstock is all about freshness, and Mean Doses is the closest brewery to the Malthouse, just 450m away up Tory Street.

We all know brewers’ love of a cringey beer pun. Well Mean Doses is an anagram – it’s owner, brewer and mastermind is Dean Moses. Dean’s 2019 fresh hop brew is called So Fresh & So Mean IPA. In Mean Dean’s own words, “The beer is 5.5%. IBUs are at 55ish, so this is an assertive IPA with a pleasantly distinct ‘green’ quality. 20kg of Nelson Sauvin fresh hop lost their lives in the making of this beer – all in the whirlpool. There’s Motueka and Riwaka rounding off the hop salad.”

So Fresh & So Mean is available at the Malthouse from Wednesday until it runs out. Don’t miss out.

And speaking of fresh, Tuatara has shed its skin with a rebrand and the introduction of five new beers into its core range. It’s celebrating with a tap takeover at the Malthouse from next Saturday 4 May.

Anyone following Tuatara’s limited releases will know it enjoys flirting with hazy styles, and two of the five new core range beers are on the cloudy side.

“We’re a big fan of hazy styles and have been playing around with them a lot in the last year”, says Brayden Rawlinson, Tuatara’s head brewer. “The new Hazy IPA is a refined recipe based on the crowd favourites Suspense and Kilmog Fog. And the new Hazy Pale Ale we are launching is, in my opinion, the ultimate hazy – with all the big flavour and aroma you should expect from this style, but with a slightly lower ABV.

“Last year we did a Baltic Porter at The Third Eye, our Wellington microbrewery, and it was one of our most popular beers so we’ve been itching to release another for people to get stuck into. We also know that Tuatara drinkers love Kiwi hops and our new New Zealand IPA has a massive hop profile that really celebrates the prodigious tropical characteristics of New Zealand-grown hops”.

The five new beers will be on tap at the Malthouse from 3pm, Saturday 4 May, joined by Tuatara old favourites and a couple of surprises. There will be tons of prizes available, and the first 30 people through the door get a free t-shirt.

The five new beers are:

IPA (6.1%) – Layers of citrus aroma from the fruit forward hops. Very fruity flavours of citrus, tropical and stone fruits. Balanced malt base. Solid bitterness. 50 IBU.

Hazy Pale Ale (5.5%) – Tropical and citrus fruits with subtle honey malt aroma. A refreshing combination of mango and pineapple flavours with a generous dose of citrus. Light bodied with honeyed malt undertones. 27 IBU.

Roughneck Hazy IPA (7.1%) – Tropical and citrus fruit marry beautifully with the subtle esters of banana and apple. Layers of tropical (Mango, Pineapple) and Citrus (Orange) fruit coming from the big, staggered triple dry hop. Some residual sweetness and a seemingly non-existent bitterness from the judicial use of kettle hops. Creamy mouthfeel and texture. 15 IBU.

Midnight Sun Baltic Porter (7%) – Deepest dark red. Rich plum and raisin. Lots of silky, velvety chocolate on the palate, very light coffee character. Beautifully weighted, rich, warming and embracing. 40 IBU.

Primeval Tendency NZ IPA (7%) – Herb, citrus, toasted caramel aromas. Orange zest and pine flavours balanced with a full-bodied crystal malt sweetness. 50 IBU.

Malthouse events

Hopstock 2019 – from 1 May

Tuatara Re-evolution and Tap Takeover – from 3pm, Saturday 4 May


Martin Craig