Private Beer & Cider Tour
With the wine harvest for V17 all but finalised, it’s a perfect time to share a piece on harvest beer. Enjoy a private beer and cider tour that showcases hops, with the hop harvest season at a close and fresh harvest ales now packaged.
If you are passionate about Boutique Brews, now is a great time to get on board a small group private beer & cider tour and embrace some of the amazing fresh craft beers on offer around Adelaide.
As autumn approaches every ear many winemakers eagerly await the arrival of this years fruit to craft into the new vintage. At the same time brewers are rubbing their hands together for the opportunity to brew with fresh hops.
Hop harvest is a time where, before hops are dried and packaged ready for use all year round, that they can be picked fresh and sold to brewers all over the country. This is for use in fresh or ‘wet’ hopped beers, also known as harvest beers.
Hops grow on bines which typically grow up to 3m tall on trellises and are harvested around the same time many wineries are picking grapes. The plant is a perennial and is trained up a string on these trellises, much like grapes. The harvest is typically over in all of 6 weeks, with differing varieties ready at differing times. Much like the vineyard and winery at vintage, hop harvest has its operational challenges.
Variety = flavour
There are well over 300 varieties of hops commercially available around the world and thousands are discovered as a product of breeding programs designed to find the next best new hop for brewers to exploit. Crosses of varieties are being generated every year in the search for new, interesting and unique cultivars with their own flavours and aromas. In Australia, roughly 20 varieties of hops are grown and sold commercially and each variety (much like grapes) offers specific and differing characteristics. Hops contain alpha-acids for bittering beers as well as essential oils which give beers some of their flavour and aroma. The hot brew is poured over the hop heads or the plant flowers, to give the beer its bitterness and reduce the otherwise sweet brew.
Most Australian hops express tropical fruit aromas and flavours such as lychee, passionfruit, pineapple and melon.
Brewing Wet Beers
Hops are normally picked, dried and then pelletized before they are packaged and stored carefully for sale and then used by brewers. Once a year however, some brewers either travel to hop farms to collect freshly picked hops or have them sent overnight to use in their brewhouse.
It is this time of the year, by using these ‘wet’ fresh hops straight from the plant that they can produce a beer that is extremely special and unique. Wet hops lend a freshness to harvest beers, a grassy note or slightly woody character to the beer.
Harvest beers (typically ales) aim to feature the hop of choice as much as possible without too much malt or yeast character getting in the way. These beers are usually light pale ales of moderate ABV and will usually feature just a single hop variety, in an effort to showcase what each particular hop variety has to offer.
Although Australian hop harvest volumes are small in the global scheme of things, producers have the ability to cater to the diverse demands from smaller producers, seen as a bonus for the craft brewing scene.
But the window of opportunity is naturally very small, with brewers planning to brew a harvest beer having to hop on the wagon quickly, as the hop farms in both Alpine Victoria and Tasmania wind up their harvest season and prepare for the growing season over winter and summer.
Harvest Beer on Tap
For the Craft Beer consumer, this means that this time of the year select boutique bars and brewpubs will be tapping harvest ales from all over the country, with almost every hop variety available.
One of our Shiraz & Co Tours Beer and Cider Tours is a great way to experience the best that the South Australian craft beer and cider scene has to offer. There are a host of award winning producers within easy reach of Adelaide, some even offer interpretive tours of the brew house or cider production process.
Tastings are available, making these tours a great and engaging way for visitors to try new beer and cider styles that are not normally available at the major liquor outlets or hotels.
Our tours take in the beautiful local scenery as we make our way through the picturesque near city locations, and lunch is specially matched to the beer experience at one of our wonderful local participating venues.
If you want to join in on a small group private tour and avoid the crowds, simply complete one of the Booking Enquiry forms on the website, send us an email at [email protected] or if its urgent and you want to get going soon, give us a call on 0411752062.
We look forward to having you join us and are always here to answer any questions you might have.