You. Drink. This - Hop Peeps #3
It’s the greenest season of the year: fresh hop season. Time to crack open all those hop harvest beers and slightly edgy/tired weed-related puns. To celebrate the hop harvest 2021 vintage, we chat to three beer peeps who are right in the heart of New Zealand’s hop country, Motueka.
Brent Mcglashen, Hop Farmer at Mac Hops
Hi, I’m Brent McGlashen from Mac Hops in sunny (most of the time) old Motueka. I am a proud fifth-generation hop farmer, which makes us quite old, I suppose. Before realising that hop farming was in my blood and I couldn’t escape it, I spent several years travelling the world, seeing, meeting and doing things I had always dreamed of.
Back on the farm, we’ve seen many innovations since the craft brew bus came to town. I love meeting and greeting the many brewers and industry representatives that are involved in our really cool, ever-evolving industry.
One of my most favourite beers of all time would have to have been last year’s Panhead green hop beer, Far from Dead. A little biased because it had our hops in it but, by hell, it was a rip-snorter. Currently, Sprig and Fern’s Hazy Days, which is brewed with the new New Zealand Hops Ltd. NZH102 (obviously, there will be a sexier name for this variety when released to the world) variety is one hell of a good session beer. If you’re in the Tasman area, you also can’t go past stopping in at Hop Federation to get a tasty rigger before heading to the beautiful Abel Tasman.
Hmmm, my rant would have to circle around the constant scrutiny that farmers face in this country, predominantly from the media and government. Why would young people want to go back onto farms when you have people constantly climbing on your back trying to drag you to the ground? Well, we are a resilient bunch, so they’re going to have to keep trying!! We have some of the smartest minds in farming in the world - how about we celebrate that and put them on a pedestal? In any one day, a farmer has to be an accountant, electrician, builder, plumber, engineer, agronomist, chemist, vet, councillor, salesperson, computer whizz… and, most importantly, Mum or Dad.
Ron Beatson, Principal Scientist, Hop Breeding & Genetics at Plant & Food Research
Kia ora, Ron, here! I’m a scientist working for Plant & Food Research at their Regional site in Brooklyn near Motueka, in the heart of the hop growing region. I’m Motueka, born and bred, growing up in the Motueka Valley on my parents’ raspberry farm. Some of my earliest childhood memories were visiting Sid Thorn’s hop garden just up the road after school, where my mum used to help handpick hops. It was a real community activity in late February-March every year (Think H.E. Bates’s Darling Buds of May TV series, set in Kent, United Kingdom).
I’ve always had an interest in plants and rural life, which is part of what drew me to plant science. I’ve been a Hop Breeder for close to 40 years now, and have loved every minute working with this special plant. It’s been a truly rewarding career, breeding new hop cultivars with special flavours that have helped the industry expand rapidly in recent times. My claim to fame would be developing cultivars such as Nelson Sauvin, Riwaka, Motueka, Waimea and many others, most recently Nectaron®. (Editor’s note: Which was in part named for Ron because he is such a hoppy legend - but too modest to say!)
I love the diversity of beers available to us today here in little old Aotearoa NZ. My early memories of beers were from my University days in Palmerston North in the early 1970s, where the culture was to “drink quantity, not quality”! While furthering my university studies in the USA, I became more aware and appreciative of the diversity of beers available, particularly imported beers from Europe. Returning to NZ in the early 1980s, craft beers were scarce, but we were lucky in Nelson to be able to access Mac’s Brewery beers. Needless to say, I became a fan of Black Mac, Mac’s Real Ale and Mac’s Gold. As they say - “drink local”!
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to taste some spectacular beers made right here in NZ. Two of my favourite beer memories were a Festive Lager Special made by Monteith’s with our newly released Riwaka cultivar, and the very first beer using Nelson Sauvin hops by Mac’s Brewery/Lion called AroMac. Another favourite memory was helping Mac’s Brewery with the last fresh (green) hopped Brewjolias beer, brewed at their Stoke, Nelson site in 2008, using our Riwaka hops, which was then showcased at the IBD Asia-Pacific Convention in Auckland. (Editor's note: here are some great photos of the last Brewjolias brew day in 2010 at the former Mac's Brewery in Wellington. Photos by Jed Soane)
Being a true “Hoptimist”, I like beers using lots of hops, especially if they’re our Plant & Food Research-bred cultivars. Who said I’m parochial? Currently, my favourite beers would be various versions of IPAs, using our latest hop Nectaron® (e.g. Cassels Nectaron IPA, Behemoth’s Me Time #5 Nectaron Hazy IPA, McLeod’s Sail Rock Pale Ale) and, locally, my go-to beers (all using our new hop, Nectaron®) would be Sprig & Fern’s Nectaron IPA, Townshend’s Lazy Hazy IPA and Golden Bear’s Stormy (Hazy IPA). In terms of fresh harvest beers, it would be hard to beat Tracy Banner’s Sprig & Fern Harvest Pilsner.
My passion is hops, especially NZ ones! I believe there should be a law that requires all NZ breweries to use copious quantities of our hops. Why wouldn’t you do so anyway? I think the domestic breweries are in the enviable position of having available to them some of the best and uniquely flavoured hops in the world. Bring on those NZ style beers, I say!
When I’m not “thinking hops”, I love watching live sports (especially rugby and cricket), reading thrillers, watching natural history documentaries and Homeland, along with enjoying vacations with my family.
Simon Nicholas, Founder & Head Brewer at Hop Federation
Hi, I’m Simon, Chief Brewer at Hop Federation Brewery, here in Riwaka. Originally from Auckland, we moved down here 7-and-a-half years ago and started up Hop Federation, before selling to Kono in August 2020. After all these years I still have the original team in tow, only now we have expanded our whānau, making for better fun here at the brewery.
I like to keep it nice and simple with a good clean Lager or Pilsner - anything around the 4.5 -5% mark works perfectly for me. If I feel like changing it up, I’ll sit down with a decent West Coast IPA. It takes me back to when I first tried Green Flash West Coast IPA or Bear Republic Racer 5, both just good, clean, solid IPAs. I’m also looking forward to getting stuck into a few pints of Green Limousines in the near future, which is our 2021 Fresh Hop beer we’re producing with Nelson Sauvin, grown here on our own Kono Hop Farms.
It’s no surprise that I’m keen on a spot of mountain biking - how can you not when you live down here, especially with some of the best biking tracks on our doorstep? If all goes well, I’m out there at least three times a week. It keeps the heart pumping and adrenaline rushing. Besides mountain biking, I enjoy hanging out with the family - exploring the Abel Tasman is on the cards too.