How long do hops last for?

Everyone wants the latest hop harvest, if your striving to achieve that amazing fresh hop aroma in a dry hopped IPA that maybe the case but on occasion sometimes the latest harvest might not be the best option…

Growing and harvesting conditions can affect the final outcome of the quality of the hops so the latest harvest may have been a poor yielding year and the previous harvest maybe the better option. The previous harvest will only be a better option however if the hops have been stored correctly.

So how do you store hops correctly and how long will they last?

The question of how long hops last for will of course raise a few more hop related questions and there is many variables, the main variables to be aware of are;

  • Temperature
  • Light
  • Oxygen

The above key points are highly relevant but will affect each variety slightly differently.

Geterbrewed have invested in cold storage to ensure all our hops are stored below 4 degrees. Correct cold chain storage from the hop farm to our cold storage warehouse is time consuming to do correctly so the latest harvest may take a little longer to arrive but its good to know the reason is we want you to receive simply the best hops in the brewing industry.

Sending hops in a refrigerated container is also much more expensive but again it preserves freshness. We want to provide the finest hops to our craft brewers and home brewers so we have set a clear focus on handling the hops correctly.

Geterbrewed recommend that when you receive your hops you store them in a fridge below 5 degrees. Hops exposed to high temperatures will degrade fast resulting in substantial losses of alpha- and beta-acids, the higher the temperature the more the hops will degrade with degradation doubling every 15 degrees.

Hops exposed to UV light will also degrade quickly and lose their flavour and aroma and can actually generate off flavours in your beer. Geterbrewed have invested in premium quality mylar foil packets to package the smaller quantities of hops for home brewers. We buy container loads of hops and they arrive in pallets made up of boxes of hops in 5kg, 10kg and 20kg foil bags, for craft brewers we ship in these volumes but for home brewers we open one of these pack sizes and breakdown into smaller volumes usually 50g, 100g, 225g, 450g and 1kg

When we have visited hop farmers during harvest we have noted when they cut the bottom of the bines they have a maximum time limit of 2 hours to get the hops picked and into the processing plant as the sunlight will degrade the hops. The foil packaging we use prevents UV rays, vapours and moisture getting into the hop package so they are preserved for ultimate freshness, we also nitrogen flush and vac seal the foil packages.

Oxidised hops aren’t pleasant and can cause cheesy off flavours in your beer, we mitigate this with our handling and packaging and storage methods. Hop Flower or Hop Leaf degrade and oxidise much quicker than hop pellets.

We prevent oxygen pick up with the packaging that we use, a high micron foil package that is nitrogen flushed and vacuum sealed ensures the hops have the best packaging for storage, combined with cold storage means we can confidently put a 3 year shelf life on our hops, we can stand over these hops to guarantee freshness for this period of time

Geterbrewed Hop Packaging

We have recently ordered new foil packaging that has a resealable ziplock, these new hop packs will start to roll out at the end of the month, ideally if your resealing it should be carried out with a vac sealer but if you squeeze out the air and use the ziplock and place back into cold storage this would help preserve the hops and slow down the ageing process.

We are passionate about providing the best hops in the brewing industry, this is only achieved by handling and storing the hops correctly, we hope you appreciate the time and effort this takes but most of all we hope you notice a marked difference in the quality of our hops.

 

Australian Hop Harvest Tour 2019 – Tasmania Hop Farms

Australian Hop Harvest Tour 2019 – Tasmania Hop Farms (3.5 Minute read)

HPA Tasmania

We have never visited anywhere before and thought we can see ourselves living there until we visited Hobart in Tasmania, it was beautiful and we loved every minute of it, in life we are passionate about our industry and these experiences make working in the craftbeer industry like we are genuinely living the dream.

Tours of beautiful hop farms combined with great company and a few Karaoke’s made for a very memorable trip

We got picked up at the Hotel by Owen Johnston from HPA, he’s a legend in the Australian Beer Scene and a great laugh to spend time with, a short journey to busy Park Estates saw the “hopporn” continue.

We arrived at HPA Bushy Park which covers 255 Hectares of land growing five varieties Cascade, Enigma, Galaxy, Ella & Superpride, they have been growing hops here for 153 years

Owen HPA Hop Rockstar

Owen was a very knowledgeable host and I tried my best to document his informative tour, Bushy Park boosts many natural environmental attributes, they have the necessary cold winters where the soil is -1 for at least 3 to 4 days to ensure it starts the proper dormancy period for the hops balanced with the right length of daylight hours in summer.

The summers are exceptionally warm so the rainfall is bolstered with water pumped from the rivers to feed aerogation , both top and bottom aerogation is carried out

It’s a complicated geological area with great soils in the valley floors. Bushy Parks doesn’t export any Alpha, their main hop exported is Galaxy

They harvest Galaxy for approximately 10 days and in Tasmania they harvest each variety before moving onto the next. Galaxy was officially released in 2009

Owen explained that in 2007/8 the make-up of the harvest was approximately 90% alpha to 10% aroma and currently it’s less that 8% alpha (for domestic use only) and 92% plus modern aroma made up of their 5 proprietary blends.

The US hop market moved away from Alpha market which has pushed Europe to increase Alpha which has knocked on an unprecedented change of variety in the field in Australia.

There are 340 active brewers in Australia and it’s great to see so many utilizing the local hop varieties, we enjoyed some awesome brews which showcased what can be achieved from the Australian hop varieties

Brief History of Hop Farming in Tasmania

1803- Hops 1st Started

1830- Steady Production in Hobart and Northern Suburbs

1865- Bushy Park started by Ebenezer Shoobridge

1866- 1st Year Harvest

1867- The building of the Text Kiln, it’s a heritage listed building still in standing. Called the ‘text kiln’ as it has biblical subscriptions on the exterior. This kiln brought industrial capability to the area which in turn allowed small family farms to diversify and add hops to their portfolio of products, Shoobridge (the founder) then processed the hops for them

Text Kiln Bushy Park Estates

Fast forward to 1987/8-1992/3 this saw the hop farms that were owned by ‘Big Beer’ be bought back by Barth Haas and the European and American sides of the business gave a route to market for Hop Products Australia (HPA). At this stage it was 40% domestic and 60% export half of which went to America.

1960’s- Saw the production of mainly Pride of Ringwood

1990’s- Saw the above supersided by Superpride

When Big Beer (CUB & Lion Group) owned the hop farms they grew just what they wanted. When HPA took over it changed to “Choice & Variety” and this became the mandate of Craft and HPA’s role was to help craftbrewers create diverse and interesting beers, which takes us to modern times and their five proprietary blends focus on aroma and are the most sought after hop varieties in the globe right now.

Joined during the tour by Tim Lord MD of HPA, a real gentleman and great host. We looked over the valley of a recent addition of 20 hectares of Galaxy and then enjoyed a BBQ in the hop breeding gardens having a rub, sniff and a few beers and soaked up this incredible experience. Grace treated us to an feast of of food and ice cold beers, it was delicious.

One hop that stood out in the breeding garden was HPA 016, there is currently 10 Hectares in the ground and the stand out aroma was delicious fruit forward character with Mandarin, citrus peel and pine, talk to us about forward contracting this!!

HPA 016 experimental hop variety

HPA Bushy Park manage all their own propagation which puts them in a strong position if replanting was required and this will also allow them to assist with propagation for the Victoria Expansion.

Getting in amongst the hop breeding garden allowed us to see what varieties are coming through and get an understanding of how the process of creating new hops works, it’s a very lengthy process and cannot be rushed. I noticed Pollen bags on the bines and it was explained that they use this process to stop flowers being wind pollenated so they ‘Shake and Bake’ which creates the pairing they want.

Once we enjoyed lunch we moved onto the processing plant and again it was meticulous clean showcasing the World’s Best Practice, focusing on getting the hops pelletised and into foil and packaged stable.

We stood over the floor of Enigma 100 kilo plus bales packed onto pallets of 6, the aroma you can’t imagine the aroma it was epic to experience this! The characteristics they test for at this stage are Alpha, Oil and Moisture (8-11%)

Enigma Hop Bales

The temperature has to be steady before being sent to pelletising or cold storage

The theme at HPA Bushy Park Estates seemed to shine as “The Highest Possible Quality balanced with the lowest possible variants”

HPA have full traceability from Lot number back to the field, Geterbrewed are committed to maintaining this level of quality to the end brewer.

Galaxy Hop Valley

Deborah giving the thumbs up to an amazing experience, once again thanks to all the staff that made this possible at Hop Products Australia and Simply Hops

We love what we do, we love the way you do it and we look forward to seeing you all again

Sincerely Thanks for the experience

Kind Regards

Jonathan & Deborah

 

 

 

 

Australian Hop Harvest Tour 2019 – Rostrevor Hop Farm

Australian Hop Harvest 2019 – Rostrevor Hop Farm (5 min read)

Rostrevor Hop Farm Entrance

We have just returned home from a trip to visit Hop Products Australia, they produce 90% of the hops that come out of Australia, they are the sister company of Simply Hops who we exclusively distribute hops for in Ireland.

I have to say this was an amazing experience, as the Irish Brewers that work with us know we are a family business and to leave our girls to fly to the other side of the world to buy hops was a big ask and tricky to manage but I’m so glad Deborah and I got to experience this.

Galaxy Hop Harvest 2019

Long Haul flights, jetlag and excitement mixed with a few drinks, great company and every emotion you can imagine made for an eventful journey to see the hop harvest.

We were joined in the group by John from Simply Hops, John from Oakham Ales, John from Vocation Brewery, plus other ‘non John’ called lovelies Simon from Gipsy Hill, Greg from Five Points, Dan from Simply Hops & Sylvain from Reflect Digital. Rockstar HPA guys joined us at various stages and I’ll name drop like an excited fangirl later in the blog

Aussie Hop Tour 1st Night

Arriving into Melbourne at 6am tired and emotional the only thing to do was to try and stay awake, so we went for a walk about in the city, its great place to go for a dander and living up to the Irish Reputation we gravitated towards a few bars in the early afternoon. As Simon from Gipsy Hill Brewery said by late evening we were bumping into each other and laughing like little drunk babies, innocent vulnerable and generally loving life.

The brewing industry allows me to meet some interesting people and enjoy some amazing experiences. We spent two days travelling around Melbourne visiting some brilliant breweries, standout was Stomping Ground Brewery, we had a great meal in their beerhall and the venue is beautifully presented. We enjoyed a fresh ‘Gipps Street’ Pale Ale straight off the canning line and a personal tour by Ashur the head brewer. We were joined by Dave Edney from HPA , he’s a legend in Australian beer, name dropping done and shamelessly too, he took us to a few local breweries for more tours and yes more beers, we did drink responsibily of course.

Dave Edney HPA

Quaint pop up taprooms packed with a warming vibe and beer drinkers , it was nice to see a full bar on a Wednesday night and such a buzz around craftbeer, as Ireland is a juvenile craftbeer market I’m hoping we get to this stage it really is the way beer should be enjoyed. We stopped into Mountain Goat Beer for a tour and Moon Dog which was a great little venue and had some tasty beers pouring in a packed out venue, which actually had a pop up Garden centre going on, strangely it worked

Moondog brewery

Michael Capaldo fom HPA joined us for a few beers and a bite to eat that evening, he’s a another legend in the Australian brewing scene, hoping he visits Ireland soon as his wife is originally from here and we can introduce some of our Irish brewers to this guy.

The bus journey from Melbourne to Rostrevor saw us take a pit stop at a vineyard for a tasty lunch and a cheeky glass of red wine before arriving at the first HPA farm in Rostrevor.

What a beautiful location for a Hop Farm and a warm welcome from Allan & Gail the husband and wife team who manage the farm. Initial impressions are that the place is immaculate. Dave Edney did the safety induction and got us kitted out in our trendy Day Glows and Hard hats and off we went like a bunch of school kids with a belly full of skittles.

Rostrevor Hop Farm Managers

Precise attention to detail and professional quality control was a theme understood from the off, we cleaned our shoes as Australian Hop Farms don’t suffer from many of the diseases experiences elsewhere in the world.

I love hops, this was an awesome experience, not the first hop farm that Deborah and I have visited but to walk into the hop field and witness in live time the most sought after hop in the hop industry being harvested was a special moment for us.

Hop Field Australia

 

They grow 5 varieties at this Rostrevor farm; Galaxy, Ella, Vic Secret, Topaz and Superpride. One visual I picked up on immediately was that they use Sheep to clear the weeds and the foliage from the bottom on the hop bines. Apparently New Zealand and Australian Hop Farms are the only two to do this. The sheep eat the foliage but not the hops and Allan says they do have their favourite hop varieties, no prizes for guessing what’s their favourite, its Galaxy…

Sheep maintaining Hop Bines

This clearing allows the maintenance of the crop and easy access for the bottom cutter to easily cut the hop bines and then within a very short period of time window (maximum 2 hour) they use the top cutter to bring the bines in from the fields for processing. The processing is what sets HPA apart and we will mention this in more details later

There is a nice buzz around the harvest, large numbers on site , say 130 people or so, just so you have an idea hop farming costs sit at roughly 50% of the costs going into labour, if you weren’t aware every hop bine is hand trained so it grows up the bines. We spoke with a few of the workers literally living the dream, hop farming to generate cash to travel the world. Warm friendly and genuinely nice people. Strangely I met a guy from Wexford working in the Galaxy Hop Pellet Packaging line and had a great little chin wag, he’s been working on the farm for over 2 years and loves it!

Galaxy Hops are in huge demand so it’s important for you to understand why they don’t just grow more and more of it. The harvest window is small and the processing facility can only process at a certain rate . The Rostrevor farm has a total growing land of 307 Hectares , with a recent new addition of  a further 50 hectares near the Buffalo river . So it has taken huge investment to grow this and we heard first-hand the plans to take it up to 600 Hectares in the next 4 years, so the processing facility is being doubled and thus allowing the volumes to grow without affecting the quality.

The unique thing about the HPA Rostrevor Hop Farm is that the hops are pelletised on site as they come off the hop kiln. I’ve visited many hop farms and never seen this focus on freshness at this level. Usually hops come out of the kiln and get baled for storage and then onwardly transported to a hop pelleting plant, sometimes there can months of delay, HPA Rostrevor are pelletizing on site instantly and then sending straight to cold storage.

HPA pelletising Operation at Source

We saw the pelletizing first hand and it was exciting to see the difference. I also noticed they have built a cold room around the pelletizing hammer to ensure the pelletizing process is maintaining all the essential oils and volatiles. Foil vac packed with nitrogen flushing and then into cold storage. Simply the freshest and finest hops in the brewing industry.

Hop Products Australia (HPA) put a shelf life of 3 years of their hops but if stored correctly and handled properly they will be fine to use even longer. I spoke personally with the quality control manager Peter Hamilton on this specific issue as we have brewers that always want the latest harvest. He explained that their process combined with cold chain storage would mean they can guarantee premium quality for 3 years.

We work exclusively with Simply Hops for this very reason, cold chain storage is more time consuming and more expensive but the quality is exceptional. We maintain these processes at Geterbrewed maintaining all our hops below 4 degrees, this experience visiting Australian hop farms made our investment in cold storage facilities easy to justify to ensure our Irish brewers receive the finest hops in the industry.

Allan explained that this was his 46th harvest, a friendly gentle character who clearly still loved what he did. Willing and eager to share information as I bounced many questions off him as we walked around the hop farm. He runs this hop farm to an exceptionally high standard. How do I tell the story of the focus on their quality control? I feel it’s difficult to do it justice, the whole farm is immaculate , we had to put shoe covers on to walk into the hop processing areas, the processes in place all working in harmony to produce the product to as close to perfection as they can.

We picked a fresh hop from the Vic Secret Hop Paddock and dropped it into a glass of beer, the hop oils observed moving through the beer were visually hypnotic, the aroma was beautiful and the hop flavor was something I have never experienced before. This is the very reason HPA hops are selling out , if you want to blow peoples mind with a hop forward beer you need to get some Aussie hops into the brew.

We enjoyed one of the most refreshing beers of the trip at the end of this Hop Farm Tour, casually chatting to Peter he drops in he was responsible for the pairing of Galaxy’s parents, I reckon that makes his a rockstar in the craftbeer world!!

Cheers for an epic experience Simply Hops & HPA

Sincerely enjoyed Experience

Thanks

Jonathan & Deborah

Hop Contracts

There was a necessary price adjustment in the hop industry this year, we saw a lot of the most sought after varieties drop in price. This wasn’t all good news as some brewers and hop merchants had contracted at a higher price. That meant selling at a very low margin and on some occasions selling at a loss.

Hops

Geterbrewed brought some incredible value to the microbrewery community and used their buying power to drive down pricing for the homebrew community too but times are changing.

The hop harvest was good in some regions but equally it was very poor in others, drought and other issues have caused some difficulties and we expect a rise in the cost of alpha/bittering hops especially from Germany going into 2019.

If you benefited from the lower hop prices and didn’t have a contract then well done and hopefully you enjoyed that rarity from the hop industry but don’t be fooled into thinking this will happen again next year, the availability of the most sought after hops is going to be reduced.

The structure of how hops are distributed is changing, thankfully Geterbrewed invested significantly in increasing our cold storage this year and are recognised as leading the way in Ireland as the number one hop supplier. That means we are trusted to distribute as we have the ability to correctly handle hops.

Geterbrewed have also built some special relationships with hop farmers that allows us to buy hops direct from the farm.

If you own a brewery and want to secure a consistent supply then we recommend you get yourself a hop contract. Geterbrewed will provide hop contracts for hop supply in Ireland allowing you to keep pricing and costs stable and consistent

It is highly unlikely that there will be the same amount of surplus hops available in the coming year. Many brewers now spot buy hops as they are constantly changing recipes and say they don’t need a consistent supply of the same hop varieties.

I would urge caution with this approach, if you want to have a look at securing some hops for your brewery for next year, its a good time to talk now don’t leave it too late to get a hop contract.

 

Irish Brewing Seminar

Irish Brewing Seminar

This coming Thursday (19th), at the beautiful new Porterhouse Brewery, an event just for the brewers and brewery owners we love what we do and have put together a day to showcase the brands that we represent as exclusive distributors throughout Ireland

10am – Introduction from Geterbrewed

1015-1100 Base & Speciality malts and the flavour impact by Colin Johnston

1100-1145 Brewdeck Tour of Porterhouse (NEIPA being brewed on the day)

1145-1230 Yeast Flavour & the Evolution of beer Styles by Robert Percival

1230-1330 Lunch provided by Burger Republic

1330-1415 Wild & Sour Beer Science or Art? by Robert Percival

1415-1445 Process tips & tricks in Mashing & Boiling by Carl Heron

1445-1530 The Old & The New Getting the Best from your finings by Sarah Young

1530-1600 Break for beers

1600-1615 Arc Net Block Chain Technology & Labelling

1615-1630 Exporting Irish Beer by Liam Brogan

1630-1700 Social Time

The Best In The Industry will be Attending;
Crisp Malt
Lallemand Yeast
Ab Vickers