LESS THAN 24 hours passed from when the hops were picked on the Worcestershire farm to being in the copper at Tyne Bank’s Newcastle brewery.
Having noticed the ‘green beer’ style of brewing in September last year, the team at Tyne Bank Brewery were keen to try their hand at brewing their own beer with fresh hops.
Green Hop beer can only be brewed in the English hop harvest, which is typically September for most UK varieties, with hop merchant Charles Faram organising an annual ‘hop walk’ for brewers to pick their own. They are picked and used in a brew within 24 hours ensuring all the natural oils transfer to the brew giving a lovely fresh hop flavour.
“Initially we planned to go on the hop walk and bring the hops back with us but unfortunately due to sickness in the brewery we had to rely on a carrier to deliver the hops fresh from the field,” said Julia Austin, Managing Director at Tyne Bank Brewery.
The First Gold hops, which can impart orange, marmalade & spicy flavours into a beer, were picked from the fields on the afternoon of Wednesday 4th September 2013. By lunchtime on Thursday 5th, they were already in Tyne Bank’s copper kettle, under the expert supervision of Head Brewer Mark McGarry, who had earlier mashed in the Maris Otter Pale malt in preparation.
Hops are normally picked when ready and dried in an Oust house where some oils are lost then either vacuum packed as fresh leaf or pelletised for larger commercial brewery use. The dried, vacuum packed leaf hops can be up to a year old, having been carefully stored in a temperature-controlled environment until required. Many breweries typically order very large quantities of their chosen hop varieties during harvest season to ensure they can brew their core range throughout the following year.
The beer has already been on sale in several Sir John Fitzgerald pubs, including The Chillingham Arms in Heaton and The Bodega in Newcastle City Centre. Several other establishments have the beer in their cellar, however it needs to be drank fresh to appreciate the full flavour, so it won’t be around for long.
So far, feedback on the refreshing 4.4% session ale has been positive. “We are very pleased and will most likely brew it again next year, but then we rarely repeat a special so we will have to see,” adds Austin.