NZ vs Imported hops

I love hops! They smell great, and they make beer taste fantastic. However getting hold of the hops you are after can sometimes be a bit hard. At the moment there is a big shortage on hops grown in the USA. These hop shortages are not a new thing

If you are using New Zealand hops the American hop shortage will not affect you much, but the thing is that many people in New Zealand will be trying to brew recipes that call for American hops.

I think the main reason there are so many recipes calling for American hops is two-fold. First of all the American style of IPA and APA are very popular at the moment. You know the type of beer. Pale in colour with a clean fermentation and big up front hop flavour and aroma with pine and citrus type notes. People like these beers and so want to brew something that tastes like these for themselves and their friends.

The second reason I think many people want to use American hops is that many of the recipes available to home brewers are American recipes simply because the USA have been brewing these beers for longer and there are so many more people over there.

To make good beer you need a good recipe. When starting out brewing, you will probably want to start out using recipes that are known to work well and as you progress your home brewing you can start to formulate your own recipes. If you are working with NZ hops there is not a lot of information out there on which hop combinations are good and what ratios you should use them in. There is quite a bit of information on which American hops are used and in what combinations.

What this means for NZ home brewers is that if you are not inclined to experiment and try local hop varieties in your beer you will stuck with recipes using hard to get hold of hops.

I used American hops for my first brew and really liked it. Since then have used mainly NZ hops. Some of my combinations have been less than optimal, but I am now starting to get some great flavours and aromas in my pale and amber ales. I like the idea of being able to use local ingredients and so using NZ grown hops appeals to me. If you combine this with the shortages of American hops the idea of using mainly NZ grown hops seems even better.

Brewing using NZ hops means that you will never get a beer that tastes quite the same as the ones using the American hops. Even using the same variety of hop such as Cascade is not a guarantee of the same flavour. The NZ grown Cascade hops have differences in flavour and aroma to that of the US grown Cascade. While some people might see this as a problem, I prefer to think of it as more of a challenge to find an NZ hop combination that works well and makes great beer and so that is what I will keep working on.

We have some unique hop varieties here in NZ as well, which means we have the opportunity to create beers that taste different to what anyone else in the world is brewing. I like that we can make great beer that is uniquely NZ.


About Zane

Mountain biking and beer brewing Zane. Mountain biking since 87 and love it. I really enjoy getting outback on challenging trails in real mountains with like minded mates. Brewing since 2010 and the beer keeps getting better.
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One Response to NZ vs Imported hops

  1. Pingback: Hop monsters for hop heads – late hop additions to give big hop flavour and aroma | Beer brewing adventures with zymologist Zane

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