Duo brews up idea for niche hop crop

South Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY - Liana Turner liana.turner@bor­der­post.com.au

THE Gran­ite Belt is known as a top lo­ca­tion for wine, but one duo’s fresh ideas have bol­stered the re­gion’s ca­pac­ity to cre­ate fresh brews, too.

Af­ter tri­alling a small amount of the plants and then es­tab­lish­ing a sig­nif­i­cant crop last year, Brass Mon­key Brew House owner Ernie But­ler and Rick Humphries, who has been grow­ing the plants, have wel­comed the first har­vest.

Mr Humphries said their first har­vest, of four va­ri­eties, was on Jan­uary 19.

So far, he said all signs pointed to the yield be­ing strong, mean­ing they were likely to con­tinue to grow their own hops, and even ex­pand. He said the first har­vest fea­tured three va­ri­eties, which were des­tined for dif­fer­ent types of lo­cally made beer.

“This is the first har­vest of Cas­cade, Saaz and Gold­ing,” Mr Humphries said.

In re­cent weeks, they have been us­ing th­ese va­ri­eties in their de­but brews.

Mr Humphries be­lieved the har­vest held great prom­ise for their ca­pac­ity to grow hops on the Gran­ite Belt – some­thing which they be­lieve has not been done on a com­mer­cial level in the past.

“What this sug­gests is that we can do it at scale,” Mr Humphries said.

“From talk­ing to Ernie they’ve got a good qual­ity. “The yield’s good.” He said they were look­ing at tweak­ing some of the pro­cesses to op­ti­mise their yield.

“What we’ve got to do is man­age how the plants are grow­ing up,” he said.

He looked for­ward to see­ing how the fresh hops would trans­form the brew­ery’s pro­duc­tion, com­pared to older hops, which were sourced from in­ter­state.

“This is a re­ally good start and both Ernie and I are ex­cited,” he said.

He said they were sur­prised at how quickly the crops grew.

“The weather’s been in­ter­est­ing be­cause it’s been hot and cold and we’re sur­prised at how early they’ve come on,” he said.

Mr But­ler said the fresh hops would likely trans­form the flavour of his beers.

“It’s very ex­cit­ing,” he said.

PHOTO: LIANA TURNER

FLAVOUR TRANS­FOR­MA­TION: Brass Mon­key Brew House owner Ernie But­ler and Rick Humphries with the fresh hops.

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