The humble sip…
I remember my first brew day at our Murwillumbah brewery; I’ll admit I was a little naïve, I’d never stepped foot in a brewery and I was suddenly thrown deep into the world of water, malt, hops and yeast. As I drove home through the hinterland that night, my bright-eyed self was left aghast… stunned and amazed at the amount of passion, blood, sweat and tears that went into crafting beer.
Three years on, my appreciation has developed and I am continually reminded of just how much effort it takes to create a beer, from ingredient state to enjoyment… Often however, caught up in the brewery’s busy times it takes a step back and redirection of focus to rattle our thoughts, deepen and reshape our perspective. Visiting the hop harvest in Tasmania as part of this year’s Tour of The Galaxy was one of those times….
Our crew stood in awe of the towering aromatic bines of freshly flowering Galaxy, as our nostrils filled with a familiar, citrusy and tropical fruity smell. Hop Product Australia’s man on the ground Owen (our tour guide) instructed us to squish the fresh hop flowers between our hands for an even more potent aroma, staining our palms an iridescent yellow and freeing an extra punchy scent. He then began talking us through the harvest, HPA’s story and the crop’s delicate life cycle.
For the plant to flourish; the seedlings must be planted on correct latitudinal lines, matching their lifecycle with the necessary photoperiod, the rainfall and surrounding rivers provide the crop with a sufficient water supply, whilst Tasmania’s long and (very) cold winter ensures the crop has a deep sleep over winter allowing it to thrive in Spring and Summer.
Noticing the rope that the hop bines clung to as they grew, he informed us that each rope was hand tied, at their Bushy Park farm alone, there are over 1.2 million ropes rigged annually for the bines to grow on, each of these then has three individual hangers, that also tied by hand. Our team, eyes-wide continued to have jaw-dropping moments, impressed by the biological intelligence of hops and the incredibly detailed work of the hop farmers.
In the distance we could hear the work of tractors and top cutters, we made our way to the processing shed, where fresh bines were strung upside down, hops picked from them, to be sorted, dried in the kiln and finally bailed. The shed was buzzing with activity and aroma, as hop buds rattled along treadmills, kiln fires blasted and tractors continually brought freshly picked loads….
We finished the tour learning how bailed hops became pellets and were then neatly packed into foil, a well-known sight to our Stone & Wood team.
Enlightened by our time at the farm, as I sat that night enjoying a Pacific Ale at a cosy Hobart pub, my appreciation for the hop ingredient and the work required to create just one sip of beer had reached an entirely new level… I had been reminded that the beer we are so lucky to enjoy the benefits of producing and drinking is so closely tied to the land, the seasons, the expert work of farmers and…the fragile condition of our planet.
Words - Our Creative & Community Team member Bronte's experience at the Tassie Hop Fields.
To celebrate the Galaxy hop harvest and the annual pilgrimage, we've teamed up with illustrator Rachel Urquhart to release a hoppy, galactic, outer-space tee as featured below. Stocks are limited!