Living in Marlborough you can’t escape the fact that it is harvest time. Our winemaker mates are noticeably absent from after work pints at the local, replaced by a motley crew of foreign harvest workers, and conversation invariably revolves around ‘how the grapes are looking’. But it’s not only the winemaking community that gets to experience the excitement of harvest. We are fortunate in Marlborough to have arguably some of the world’s best hops grown right in our back yard and the annual hop harvest is upon us.
On the morning of March the 11th we sent Jim over the hill to Motueka to get a trailer load of gorgeous green Wai-iti hops freshly harvested from the bine at Hinetai Hops hop farm. In just over two hours Jim and 300 kilos of pungent fresh hops were back at our brewery in Blenheim, where the Renaissance boys brewed a double batch ‘Fresh Hop Grandmaster Marlborough Pale Ale’, with Matt finishing the brew at midnight.
Renaissance is one of only a few breweries in New Zealand to use 100% local New Zealand hops in our beers (ironic given that Brian and Andy are American natives) but as we brew all year round these are mostly in dried pellet form. There’s nothing quite like the magic of adding fresh hops to the kettle, with the volatile oils at their most pungent, bursting with vibrant fresh green hop aromas. Our Fresh Hop Grandmaster MPA beautifully showcases Motueka Wai-iti hops, allowing their grassy, mandarin and lime zest characters to shine.
Grandmaster will be released soon and in Wellington during Craft Beer Capital’s event Hopstock held from the 23rd to 26th of April. This year’s Hopstock will be the second annual celebration of Nelson’s fresh hop harvest, and Renaissance will team up The Tap Haus who will have exclusive pouring rights of Renaissance Grandmaster over the three days. If you’re one of those winemakers held hostage in the stainless steel tank farms in April, you will be able to get your hands on our Fresh Hop Grandmaster MPA at bars and bottle shops all over New Zealand, as well as Australia, Malaysia and the USA. Enjoy our tribute to Nelson’s annual hop harvest.