Beer of the Week

Five Things About … Red Hill’s Harvest Ale 2017

1) Surely one of the things on an Australian beer geek’s bucket list is to take part in Red Hill hop harvest. Every year around March the Victorian brewery looks to pick the hop bines they grow on their farms. Rather than do it themselves, they’ve cannily turned it into a bit of an event where people head up there and pick the hops for them.

2) Of course, the brewery puts on tea and coffee for the pickers. And beer. Of course there would be beer. Which might account for part of the appeal – how good does a beer after a bit of hard work taste? (good, the answer is it tastes good). It’s become quite a thing, if my social media feed is anything to go by. Each year there seems to be people asking who’s going and whether they can scab a lift.

3) I’d go, but I live quite a long way from Red Hill Brewery and I doubt I could convince my wife we should go there for a holiday.
“Hey hon, let’s go on a holiday to Red Hill and pick some hops.”
“You hate doing the gardening at home. Why would we go on holidays to do someone else’s gardening?”
“Well, when you put it like that …”

4) And so the closest I’m likely to come to the hop harvest is drinking the beer they make from it. See, each year those hops they pick get chucked straight into the brew – no drying or nothing (though I do wonder if hops need to get washed before you use them. I mean you wash fruit and veggies before using them so why not hops? Anyone help a guy out?). I’ve obviously moved up a bit in the beer media firmament because now they send me a few bottles of the annual beer, which is great because no one in my area stocks it.

5) This year’s was quite a surprise for me. When you think “hop harvest ale” you think of pale ales or IPAS, maybe a red ale. You know, those beers where the hops are very much the dominant characteristic. But Red Hill opted for a 6 per cent ESB, which seemed a bit out of left field. Pouring it into a glass, I swore there was a green tinge, as if from the super-fresh hops. There is some bitterness from those hops but it’s not overpowering, instead running in tandem with the biscuity malt notes. There were also some toffee characters going on and a slightly unusual peppery touch at the end. It’s an interesting beer with a lot going on – I’m glad I got two bottles because I’m going to have to revisit this one to get the full effect.
Free or paid for?: Two free bottles were sent me. Beer mail is the best sort of mail there is.

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2 replies »

  1. Mate, the hops get boiled, so all sterilised… Unless they’re used for dry hopping, in which case you’d hope they were at least “clean”… Don’t know if they use fresh hops for “dry” hopping. I don’t think you want to wash them though – all the good oils on the flowers is what you want. So, I guess that doesn’t really help. Trust the brewer, he/she is your friend.

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