After their annual wild hop picking, the crew at Tuatara have been busy preparing their latest fresh hopped pale ale, available at taps nationwide
It was a sunny, autumnal March evening that set the scene for the recent annual Tuatara wild hop picking. After an opportune discovery of some wild hops near an undisclosed river, in an undisclosed location (if they told us they’d have to kill us!) for the past few years the Tuatara crew and their whanau have been getting together to hand pick hops for a wild and fresh hopped ale.
“It’s pretty cool because the origins of these hops go back to the days when aspiring brewers brewed in-situ, so planted their hops next to the river water source,” says Tuatara Manager Blair Harley.
Thankfully this year the Tuatara wild hop picking went ahead as planned. “It had been raining so we had the brew team out there assessing the hop quality every few days. Too wet and the condition of the cone will deteriorate impacting on the trademark intensity of aroma and flavours in the final brew. Thankfully it dried up in time for us to get what we needed.”
Serenaded by local musician Brendon Mercer, who belted out classic operetta to lend a rustic and European familial touch to the event, the pickers managed a great haul of resinous and aromatic cones. “There are rare moments when we get to mix work and family, especially with something so intrinsic to craft (being able to pick wild hops) and also some connection to the history of early brewing on the Coast. Hopefully we might get the opportunity for some more ‘bonding’ when the beer is ready,” laughs Harley.
In return for their labours, pickers had a full picnic spread laid out to make for a tranquil evening. Not so relaxing for the brewers who had to whisk the hops back to the brewery for a carefully-timed brewing. “Hops deteriorate really quickly once picked so it’s pretty crucial to get them into the kettle as soon as possible,” says Harley.
The resultant brew, Hops and Streams Wild and Fresh Hopped Pale Ale, has been simmering away in preparation for its initial outing at Tuatara’s Third Eye tap room (Wellington CBD) as part of the upcoming Hopstock Hop Harvest celebration. Post Hopstock it will be available around the country at bars (keep an eye on the Tuatara Brewing Facebook page for a list), and at Liquorland Fill Your Own keg taps (see here for a list of Liquorland stores with keg taps).