Spreading Hoppiness Podcast – Kiwi Kronicles – Brewers, Baggage and Bio Security




Brewing experts Rhys Pillai, Brian Dickson and Jim Rangeley unlock the mysteries that make New Zealand hops the way they are. Hosted by flavour nerd Mark Dredge with growing insights from our own Will Rogers.  This episode is bursting with brewer experiences from hop farm to brew.  You’ll come away able to smash any pub quiz with questions about triploids and biosecurity.


Paddie then heads over to see Don Burke at Hawkstone Brewery for the Five Minutes with Faram chat, including his favourite beers, tips, his brewing journey, interests and discoveries.  Tune in and be inspired!

Need more detail about the episode? Check out the main points below:

Patrick Whittle 0:05
Welcome back to Spreading Hoppiness, the Charles Faram podcast. In previous episodes, we’ve heard all about the development and breeding of New Zealand Hops from the master himself, Ron Beatson, now let’s hear from some brewers. We’re coming to you from the brewery resource roadshow, where we’re joined by a panel of NZ hops fanatics. We have flavour nerd Mark dredge hosting the session, accompanied by three brewers, Rhys Pillai from Beer Riff, Brian Dixon, co founder of Northern monk, Jim Rangeley, lead Brewer from Abbeydale Brewery, and our own Will Rogers Group Technical Director to give us some of the technicalities. So let’s join our panel session as they take you through a variety of New Zealand Hops giving you insights into flavour and the best beer styles to pair them with. Over to you guys.

Rhys Pillai 0:51
I’m Rhys Pillai I’m the head brewer and owner of Beer Riff from Swansea, and love New Zealand Hops. I’m a janitor as well. Yeah, I do everything. So yeah, I clean the site. That’s it. Yeah,

Brian Dickson 1:03
my name is Brian. I’m the co founder and head brewer Northern Monk here in Leeds,

Jim Rangeley 1:07
and I’m Jim from abidel brewery in Sheffield.

Will Rogers 1:11
And I’m will, if you don’t know me, group Technical Director at charlesfaram. So what makes New Zealand Hops so unique? So I think it’s fair to say, you know, we’ve got some brewers up here who are big fans are using New Zealand Hops. And I know a lot of you here have used New Zealand Hops as well. So what? What really makes it unique?

So their breeding programme is very unusual. So they they breed varieties called triploids. And if any of you know a little bit about genetics.

In order to breed a triploid hop, which it has three sets of genetic material, so not just one set from its mother, one set from its father, it actually receives two sets from one of those parents.

And in order to breed triploid hops, you have to have one breeding programme for tetraploid hops, so that has four sets of genetic material and one another breeding programme for diploid hops.

So effectively, they’re running three breeding programmes in order to generate these hops. And why does growing triploid hops make a difference, you might ask. So

triploid hops are naturally seedless, and they’ve actually got birds in New Zealand that attack the hops. They like the seed. They’re quite oily the seeds, as you’ve probably seen in your hop samples before, and they they will literally pull the hops to pieces before harvest. You can’t even pick them because the birds are attacking them. But another really interesting part of having triploids is they tend to show a lot of vigour, so they’re strong plants,

strong, not necessarily in the disease resistance sense, but as in they grow really quickly. And having two sets of DNA from one of those parents, you can essentially exaggerate some of those characteristics. So this is where some of those extreme high fruity characteristics come from. Is actually the triploid nature of the hops.

So what else makes a difference? So the prevailing wind in New Zealand comes directly off the Antarctic so that air doesn’t pass over any other land mass until it hits New Zealand,

which means it’s really, really clean. So

when we talk about growing hops in the UK, I normally despair at the amount of fungal diseases that we suffer with, and most of that is just in the air around us. There’s nothing we can do to reduce the level of burden on fungal diseases. In New Zealand, they don’t have that problem. The hops are exposed to only very clean, pure air, and as such, it means that they can grow them almost, but not quite organically even the conventional hops,

they also being so remote and far away from hop growing on any other continent, they don’t have the hot pests and diseases. They just don’t exist. So aphids is another thing you’ll you’ll hear me ranting about from time to time, and

they don’t even have aphids there. They don’t have that pest, so they don’t need to treat it. They don’t have red spider mite, and they don’t have verticillium wilt. So all the things, when I’m talking about hot breeding, and all the all the hurdles we have to get over, they don’t have in New Zealand, it’s, pretty much perfect.

Mark Dredge 4:42
Will, when you go to visit, do they have to, like, spray you down before they let you on the farm?

Speaker 1 4:49
I did have to fill in a special declaration. Mark, yeah, you joke. But when I went over at harvest, I had to, they were pre warned that I was arriving. I.

Will Rogers 5:01
Yeah, exactly.

Mark Dredge 5:02
This man is covered in wilt, really big pests,

Will Rogers 5:07
but I I understand what a problem it is for them, and I don’t want to make it any worse. So actually, I bought two new sets of shoes. I had I was wearing a pair of shoes, and just in case they made me throw those away, I had another new pair of shoes in my suitcase as well. I don’t, you know, I don’t. I didn’t want to be the person responsible for introducing hop diseases, and I live on a hop farm, so I couldn’t answer the question honestly, that I hadn’t been on a on a hop farm in the last six weeks, you know. I mean, the wife and kids probably would have thought it was a blessed relief that I was away for a few weeks staying in a hotel. But, no, I couldn’t do that. So the other thing they’ve got, and you’ll all remember the the hole in the ozone layer, when lots of us were at school, and I know a lot of you are far too young, you probably don’t even remember it, but it was a big thing made about the hole in the ozone layer. I’m not saying we should go back to having a hole in the ozone layer, by the way, but in New Zealand, they’ve got a massive hole over New Zealand, and that let huge amounts of UV through. I mean, I think when Reese came with me to New Zealand, and you only need to be in the sun for five minutes and you get burnt. I mean, that’s true for me anyway, but

so they’ve got huge levels of UV. And what the UV does is it excites the lupulin glands in the hop, and therefore generate unprecedented levels of oil. So where we’re trying to breed around this problem and breed varieties that are the prone to high oil,

They have a natural advantage, if you like. So the first hop we’re going to look at is Wakatu? Does anybody use wakatu?


yeah, the panel is about to be sacked.


we’re going to start off with Wakatu because, actually, genetically it started off they were trying to

emulate, emulate European noble hops, and that they imported hops like Mittelfruh, and they’ve imported fuggle and cascade to and those are the basis of their breeding programme. So they started off with wackatoo, and they were really looking for a sort of noble type aroma.

So Wakatu two was bred from Mittelfruh, and that shows in the female parent is tetraploid Mittelfruh, so it’s got twice the amount of genetic material that normal middle frooth has. So it’s got two copies of each allele.

But the female parent is essentially Mittlefruh with no new genetic material, and then it was crossed with a male so,

so with,

with this, you can sort of tell a little bit of the parentage. But equally, I wouldn’t really describe Mittelfruh as fruity,

but I do get a lime and vanilla character from from Wakatu to

have a Robin sniff, see what you think.

Speaker 2 8:33
Was this one of the first hops to come through their breeding programme. Or do you know much about the heritage of New Zealand’s breeding programme? So

Will Rogers 8:42
they started breeding in the I’m not sure when they actually started breeding, but this was, this was one of the first native varieties that they bred. There were a few hops before that. They actually stopped importing plant material because they were worried about bringing plant diseases. So they brought in varieties like Cluster Cascade, Fuggle, Willamette, Saaz’s

So a lot of the hops we see today will be based on those varieties. They’ve just gone on from there, they’ve got a relatively small genetic pool to work from, which is another reason why they work ontriploid crosses.

Mark Dredge 9:11
And when were those hops first planted over there? Because hops aren’t native to New Zealand. Are they?

Will Rogers 9:32
No, they’re not native.

I believe they started growing hops in the 1920s I think some German settlers over there. Took the took some things like middle fruit over they wanted to brew their

styles of beer that they were used to. And,

yeah, so they took some of those over to grow so Moving swiftly on Kohatu, we.

Made a big splash,

sort of in the

2012 2013

it’s really interesting variety, but it’s it’s fairly subtle, but it does produce really nice beer. Are you familiar with any beers that got Kohatu in Mark?

Mark Dredge 10:10
Are you familiar with any beers that have got to it?

Will Rogers 10:23
Nope, I remember when it was first imported.

Marstons at the time, were doing a single hop series and and they brewed with it. And it really, it was outstanding. The aroma and flavour on it.

The lime is quite subtle, but I got a really nice pineapple character off it.

And really, really enjoyable, drinkable beer, but not necessarily that sort of, that hammer blow that you get from some of the other New Zealand varieties. So at this point I, you know, I spoke that Rhys and I went over to New Zealand at harvest, and we made hop selection, which is incredible privilege. We got to basically go through almost every variety and decide which, which farms hops we wanted to bring over to the UK. So these are the first samples that have landed in the UK. So you’re the first people to be trying the 2024 crop, apart from Rhys and I, who had a little sneak preview in New Zealand. So hopefully you’re you can really see how fresh and zesty these varieties are. Really, really interesting. Yeah.

Mark Dredge 11:47
Rhys, you used New Zealand Hops for a long time. What was your experience of going over there and seeing where they grow? What did you bring back from that?

Rhys Pillai 11:57
The way the farmers will communicate within the co op. So they’re all talking about the window picking windows. And like, they’re quite small, picking windows. Some for a week, 10 days tops, really.

Will Rogers 12:08
Some of them as short as three days. So by picking window, we mean the perfect optimal time for picking the hop.

Rhys Pillai 12:16
Yeah. So they’re all communicating on that, which is good. So you know, everyone’s going at the right time, checking in on that. And the processing was really outstanding. The quality from all the hop pickers, like I think it was where we selected the next run in New hoplands, and the final pick was when you saw just clean the hop. So it was absolutely incredible. Yeah.

Will Rogers 12:38
They’ve done a lot to make the hops are really premium product, because by the time you move the hops around the world, they need to be really, really on point. So Ryhs we said, they they have a lab at the Co Op, and they, they basically will tell you when, when to start picking those hops. They’re really quite specific. But they also, instead of, hopefully, all of you have been on a HopWalk, if you haven’t been, you’ll get an opportunity to come on a hot walk this year at Charles Faram, and you’ll see that in the kilns there, we use big diesel or gas burners and a massive fan to dry the hops. So very heavy on the fossil fuels. And personally, whilst I don’t think it affects the brewing, the hops that are that are dried using diesel, I think you certainly on the sample can pick up a slightly diesel fuel note.

In New Zealand, they use hot water, so they’ve got massive radiators. So they heat the hot water with a lot of coal, actually, because there’s a lot of coal in New Zealand, they mine the coal, use it to fuel the burners that then heat the water, and then they use hot water radiators to dry the hops, which, which I think dries in quite a gentle way. It’s more gentle than having the hot air blown through them.

So one of you must have used Rakau.

Okay, so Rakau’s another triploid. You will notice a theme here. It was deliberately bred and selected for for it to be a dual purpose hop, and at one stage when Citra was in high demand and short supply, it was a hop that you could use as a background extender for that. But I think now that I know that Brian has used this hop, we’ll pass it over to Brian and please talk about your experiences of using Rakau.

Brian Dickson 14:43
So yeah, that’s how we first, first got my hands on rack was pretty much going back 10 years ago when Citra and Mosaic like this, weren’t as wildly available. So when we were setting up, did our first, first.

Orange recipes and so on. Rakau and Waimea were two that were available. A few brewers had recommended both varieties again for delivering that new world flavour profile. So Rakau was in true north, which was a 3.7% cask payday we did a long time ago. Waimea, it’s Waimea. Used to be in New World. Once upon a time, but then yeah, I Yeah. Rakau, I’ve always picked a like it was one of the first, one of the only hop varieties I ever like. Just screamed peach to me. Don’t know why I’ve always, always really enjoyed those hops that give a really distinct orchard stone fruit character to it.

Definitely one of the most unsung varieties from my liking. Still, still use it occasionally, still try and find homes into for it in more modern IPAs as well. Yeah, big fan.

Will Rogers 15:50
It plays quite nicely with the hops as well, doesn’t it?

Brian Dickson 15:53
Yeah, really does. Again, same way. They’re both just, yeah, I think they both work on their own as well. Rakau works really good single hop. So on the list of we start doing a few more single hop cask and stuff like that. And it’s very much on my list of ones to showcase. But yeah, it plays again. It’s got that nice, that’s nice stone fruit character packs punch, but I say definitely not as dominant as one varieties. But in the mix, yeah, it’s yeah, just works really, works really nicely. Just a really good, reliable under some hop.

Rhys Pillai 16:25
Yeah, we were lucky to in New Zealand do a sitting on a fresh hot brocaw beer, being brutal with hoh Federation and Verdent and yeah, it’s a really nice, like you said, all this stuff sown fruits, but it’s quite gentle hop as well, doesn’t it? So it’s not as punchy as some of the other ones, but yeah, I guess in the cask beer, it could be really nice just to put those general stone fruits in. Yeah, really, really rate it

Will Rogers 16:48
Wai-iti, now, I know somebody on the panel has used waiti. For me, wahiti is really interesting variety, because relative to its alpha, it’s got a really high oil content. If you look at its of two 3% alpha, and yet it’s got a one to one and a half percent oil profile that allows you to use quite a lot of it without picking up bitterness. But really, it punches out for such a low, low alpha hop. But this, this is one that actually got us really excited during hop selection, wasn’t it, Rhys?

Rhys Pillai 17:23
Yeah, we use this one in a New Zealand IPA,

so we have to use leaf in our kettle so we can get a load of it in early and late, even in the whirlpool. Again, quite a gentle hop. But it really got such the limey characters, the classic New Zealand touch behind it. Yes, really good foundation. And I would love, probably on a cast to do like a single harp. I think something like that would work really well. But, yeah, absolutely beautiful hop. If you haven’t used it, I would highly recommend trying.

Will Rogers 17:54
Yeah, really nice variety. And you know, it’s been used instead of and in combination with Motueka is a really amp up. That, that limey character as you say, that Pacific Pilsner style, I think it works really well so hop forward with lager, effectively you get really nice, clean, crisp, zesty, citrus notes, but without bitterness, that could spoil the beer.

Mark Dredge 18:23
Yeah, that’s one of my favourite styles when I went to New Zealand, just the New Zealand pilsners. And how well these hops work in that format. So that elegant base beer with then these really aromatic hops on top. And I’ve always wondered whether it was because of that German and Czech heritage, whether there’s some family resemblance that works there, or whether it’s just these hops just work there.

Will Rogers 18:49
So one of the reasons why they’ve used things like Saaz’s as a breeding mother is Saaz’s has this gene for low alpha high oil content. And what they found is, by chasing that, that high oil content, you’re getting a hop that really punches out, but is also quite clean.

And I think that is what really works in that that Pilsner style, because as you say, you got a really clean, base, based beer crisp. You know, without a hop, it would be still a delicious beer. But you can make it really interesting by having this intense fruity character, normally from a dry hop. But yeah, they’ve deliberately selected for that high old content, low alpha, and it comes from the traditional, you know, the noble hop families like Saaz’s and Mittelfruh.

So Pacific Gem is quite an old one. I’m sure some of you must have tried it. Has anybody tried Pacific Gem? Yeah, I thought Rick had tried it. Yeah. And Alex, so.

So, you know, for years it was a high alpha mainstay. So it gets a really high alpha, 12 to 15% relatively good oil content, considering how old it is. And actually it’s more recently we’ve been breeding for higher oil content. But the breeding of it’s quite interesting. So the California late cluster was was a variety that they brought in from California. So when we talk about cluster, there’s actually about 20 different varieties of cluster, but they that one was identified as having been sourced in California, and it was late, and they bred it with a fuggle and came up with a variety they called a smooth cone, and that was the parent of Pacific gem.

Any of you guys brewed with it.

Jim Rangeley 20:51
We use it pretty regularly in black mass, which is our, arguably one of the first black IPAs ever made. So it’s not particularly a roasty beer, but it’s dark. And was got an Ibu calculated Ibu of about 160 but the majority of is just lights from it started off Pacific gem when we brewed it, think, I think we started off with it, using it 20 years ago. I think although I don’t have I wasn’t making it.

Will Rogers 21:28
Then I remember Pat coming to see me, and he loves Willamette, doesn’t he, and we were talking about hops with a black current character, and I remember saying to him, you try this. Because, to be honest, off that sample, I get a lot of really nice piney notes, but I know that in the beer, you get this nice BlackBerry hedgerow character coming along too.

Jim Rangeley 21:55
Which does work hand in hand with some of the dark malts that we’ve we’ve got in there. Anyway. Now it’s not single hop to blackmail, so we used a bit of cascade to supplement. But between its majority is, is Pacific gem, yeah, really like it, and it’s got a lot of a lot of fruit and a lot of pine, which, for a beer that’s 6.66% is it holds up a lot and works really well for us.

Will Rogers 22:24
You know, I think it’s often said, but I think it’s an underestimated hop, to be honest. This is a, this is quite good value proposition, shall we say, and and present some really nice flavour profiles.

Sauvin Nelson,

Jim Rangeley 22:39
Never used this before.

Will Rogers 22:42
Now, we know you’re lying, Jim.

Jim Rangeley 22:45
Just don’t get into water.

Will Rogers 22:47
Has everybody tried the hop water? By the way? Yep, yeah. So that was courtesy of Jim. So thank you very much Abbeydale for providing it. I also believe that there’s somebody else on the panel who’s making a Nelson Sauvin hop water at the moment, or has recently made one?

Brian Dickson 23:06
Yeah, we do. We do a fair, wide range of hop waters. And I’ve been, yeah, I’ve been wanting to do Nelson one for a while, and then, yeah, Jim’s beaten me to it by a week or two. Unfortunately, ours is literally getting packed today, I think. So, if anyone’s in Hop City this weekend, then we’ve got a Nelson and white grape little water on the go. But yeah, I’ll try and get a Moteuka on in before Jim gets to it.

Will Rogers 23:30
Yeah, Nelson is a fascinating variety, because I think it when Nelson landed, I think it really put New Zealand on the map as far as hop growing is concerned. And for years they couldn’t grow enough and, and actually, the shortage is what has created the fracture in the in the growers groups over there, which is causing some hardship. But, yeah, Nelson soban is just for me. I get gooseberry and grapefruit, and it just delivers.

Jim Rangeley 24:01
I think we’ve been using Nelson in one of our core beers, I think for potentially one of the longest running Nelson beers. Yeah, in deception.

Will Rogers 24:10
Yeah, I believe you’re, you were one of the first to try it, and that beer is run on ever since.

Jim Rangeley 24:18
Yeah, I think it was one of those that when, when Pat tasted it and had it as a one off single hop special, and it just went down really well with him and with customers. So it was, it stuck, got renamed as a as Deception has been kind of there as a core beer ever since.

Yeah, so well, that’d been probably about 15 years or so.

Will Rogers 24:40
Yeah. I Yeah. I haven’t listed it there, but I, as I said, along with the Pacific Gem, I remember Pat coming, coming to see me, to see these interesting New Zealand varieties. And they, they just arrived, and it must have been almost, when I just started at Faram’s. So we’re talking about 16 years ago now.

Jim Rangeley 25:04
Yeah, and it’s one of those. We brew it every week because it’s still as consistently saleable and as good quality as it we’ve needed as people’s hops perceptions as the drinkers. Hops perceptions have changed over time. We’ve had to change the quantity of the hops, and obviously harvests change and things. So it’s not just a single hop anymore. It’s, but there is just a little bit to kind of boost in the background. But really it’s, it’s 95% Nelson is Deception. So, yeah, that’s just and it’s not going to go anywhere. As long as we can get Nelson will still so still make it.

Will Rogers 25:44
Yeah, there’s a variety. It’s not, it isn’t going anywhere. It’s really reassuring, actually, to see the amount of Acre acres that are in the ground there. Now, the main problem is it is fairly difficult hop to pick. It has a nasty habit of a stalk breaks off with the cone, and therefore the whole thing goes out on the waist belt. But it’s also pretty critical. It was one of the hops that when we were looking at the samples or East we we rejected a couple completely out of hand and said, We don’t believe those are true. To type, yeah, yeah. I think the aroma and flavour really sort of comes as it as it gets really ripe, and two days too soon and there’s nothing in it you familiar with, if you got some go to Nelson Sauvin beers mark.

Mark Dredge 26:40
I was just thinking this, actually, I was trying to remember the first ones I had. And I really distinctly remember Thornbridge Kipling, when that first came out, that was such a good beer. And actually, probably slightly before that, BrewDog had a beer called Chaos Theory, which was like all Nelson IPA. And it was, I just remember at that point, I’d only just got started getting into beer, and I was smelling and tasting things I’d never tasted before, and it was so dramatic. And actually, on this rub, you get that there’s an extra pungency that’s coming from these hops. And we talk, we’ve talked about files before, and this is probably a good hop to maybe discuss that, because we’re talking more and more and hearing more and more about thiols, but the aromas we’re getting from this are really distinctively from those compounds, I think.

Will Rogers 27:27
Absolutely, the particular compound we’re talking about Nelson sauvon is four MP, which gives us a distinct sort of white grape, gooseberry, note, it can be blackcurrant as well, but in Nelson Sauvin, it is gooseberry, obviously, that that is dependent on your yeast and how you brew with it in order to release that that file.

Rhys Pillai 28:04
Yeah, we’ve brewed with

Hop, hop and lock the yeast string, but that was with Nelson. Some people think those yeast strings a bit of a gimmick. Some don’t like it. Obviously is going to release extra compounds. We did definitely with the we had a Nelson single hop in the dry hop of that, and it definitely pushed it up on that side of it. But I wouldn’t be changing to those yeasts just for the sake of it. I think Nelson just carries through it in any beer, like really well, without any doesn’t need any extra help from yeast or anything. It just, it’s just phenomenal.

Brian Dickson 28:39
Yeah, we did. We did one one beer, where we just threw everything at it. So we meant it was a collab with Garage Project from New Zealand, who are also bit heavily involved in developing Phantasm, which the like great skin derived file precursors. So we’ve literally got that over from New Zealand via the states. We we got an yeast strain, which had been a blend which had been created, again, with 1000 mind

loads of Cascade in the in the mash, in the Whirlpool, because Cascades supposedly were actually one of the, one of the best for precursors. And then I did about two or three Nelson try hops throughout the fermentation as well. And I mean aromatically, was, think the best thing we’ve ever tasted pre pack, in terms of, again, just that clarity and ripeness of tropical fruit. It was absolutely not but three four weeks down the line, it was smelled much the same as any IP and for all the extra costs the work involved made plenty of Nelson salvam beers without which had been still incredibly punchy. I mean, it’s nothing this is a variety like no other such distinct and unique character, but all of which just work wonderfully in all popular styles, even in water, especially in water and.

Will Rogers 30:01
So now we’re going to move on to a new variety called Superdelic. Has anybody had a chance to brew with Superdelic?

Rhys Pillai 30:09
Yeah, with you.

We did a single hop colab with Charles Faram rich came down take out the mash for us.

We wanted to draw out all the berry notes of it, so we bitter with it. We will pulled with it. We dip, popped, active, dry hopped and dry hopped at the end, and yeah, you get this amazing strawberry, almost creamy note on it, bubblegum, bit of citrus in the background. I think it’s incredible as a single hop. Maybe can get a little bit lost with if you’re blended with American varieties, it can be a bit more dominant, but if you pick the right ones, you can really bear out some incredible berry characters. So yeah, I really like it.

Brian Dickson 30:57
Yeah, we don’t say we did a single hop with it and then we did a couple of IPAs with it on the back of hop state last year. And again, like, just, yeah, so I described, like, so much going on. It was, again, quite like, a sweet fruit. Yeah, it’s got that, like, candy like, like, you get that almost artificial fruit from it, which, like, there’s only one or two varieties have ever got something similar from and, yeah, I was getting, like, when we say we singled hop with it, and it was just loads and loads of, like, passion for it coming through. And then, like, yeah, that was those sort of berry notes coming underneath. They’re mixed in with a few other things. So I think we got a lot more of that sweet fruit. Trying to think of a better script. But yeah, like, blueberry bubblegum, all that kind of territory. But yeah, super fun. Like, we’re not, not, not done much with it, since they’ve already to play around a little bit more. But yeah, it feels like, feels like one of those varieties where you get something different from it, from it, I say pretty much every single style, every single using, using a different stage of the brew house, brew house, play with different hops. It’s like, Yeah, especially for specials, it’s kind of fun where you’re not 100% sure what you’re going to get. And superdelegates one of those at the moment, until we learn a bit more about it.

Will Rogers 32:02
Yeah, you’ll be relieved to hear that, although it’s only just been come out of being experimental, the acreage of that was really encouraging to see, you know, really good growth. So should be, should be more available from this 2024 harvest, if any of you tried to get some and and weren’t successful, there will be, there will be more coming this year.

And Nectaron again this this was one that divided us a little bit during during hop selection as a variety, they planted quite a big acreage, as I mentioned, it’s a complete sister of Waimea, but, but was held back a little bit. And we we’ve certainly found that if you pick it too early, it wasn’t there. The aroma wasn’t there. It was very thin. And then when we selected, well, when we had the chance to sniff some that was really late picked. It was an absolute sulphur bomb. Quite unpleasant, actually. So really important to pick get get picked in the sweet spot.

Rhys Pillai 33:20
Yeah, from the selections, I think took about nine lots, wasn’t it to pick? I think the main selections are quite late in the harvest, but very true to type. Again, it’s a great hop. Whether you just want to amplify something with a small amount of it, it’ll kick through single hop. It absolutely sings. It’s really, it’s not very, I don’t think it’s one dimensional. I think it gives you, you can do a lot with just that hop where sometimes single Hops can be a bit lacking. I think with Nectaron honest, it covers all the bases, really punchy. It’s also, I think it bridges that gap between us varieties and New Zealand. It’s got the citrusy tropical fruit so you could have

American hops, and then brings out classic New Zealand. There’s a hint of that easily, but dankness, but yeah, it’s really, really good help.

Will Rogers 34:14
Axel mentioned earlier that, you know, you can use sort of a small percentage of smoke malt to lift other, other malt characteristics. And actually think nectron is one of those varieties that you can use in a relatively small amount, and it just lifts the whole aroma profile of that beer subtly.

Brian Dickson 34:32
Yeah, I’m just saying it’s already sort of see it as, let’s say, instantly, instantly goes into the hot repertoire. From that point of view, there’s like, you know, however you use it, whether you live with it, or whether it’s, you know, you put in the background, you it’s contributing towards really good results and plays nicely with others. And yeah, or you can ask for a hop, like, when you get that, yeah, that beautiful, flavorful, foul and interacts well, again, translates quite well as well from sort of pellet and leaf through to the final beer as well. It’s like, this is so few varieties, so few varieties, where you you actually get, what you you get getting the beer, what you get from the ROB, very, very rarely translates through so nicely. And I found Nectaron, the one that does that.

Jim Rangeley 35:12
But yeah, yeah. So, yeah, it’s part of use it a few times as and on a single hop, where it stands out and it really carries itself, but also at different parts of the brew house. So pellets in Whirlpool and whole cone in hop back. We’ve used it in both stages, and you still get a really nice, pleasant bitterness from it, but in but plenty of kind of the fruit character that comes comes through. No, it’s great.

Will Rogers 35:42
I must confess as well, I had a little star struck moment when I was in New Zealand, so I was there to select hops, but I also did an interview with Ron Beatson. And Ron is just a lovely guy, so that where I’m sitting in his garden talking about hop breeding. It was just like my

it just, it’s a seminal moment for me and he said, when we wrapped it up, he said, let’s go and get a beer. And so I went to Ron Beatson’s Local and we had 100%

Nectaron hopped NEPA, and I sat there, and I just, I was in bliss. Just, just fantastic, sorry.

So now we’ve got a real privilege here. So we’ve got two varieties coming out NZ 106 and NZ 109 and the these are, these are brand new, absolutely brand new.

There are. There is a programme called the brat programme of experimental brewers that get to try playing with some of these hops. But we managed to purloin some of the pellets from the 2024 harvest, and

they’d like your opinion on what they smell like. So you know, you’re going to have to interact this time. Guys, okay,

but this is a daughter of Rakau. Now, have any of you brewed with Rakau? Yeah, most people would say Rakau Is is one of their favourite hops. It’s fantastic. It’s got all the grapefruit passion fruit, the sarts parentage gives you extraordinary oil content compared with the alpha, and it’s a fantastic hop, but the kicker is it’s an absolute swine to grow, even in New Zealand without pests and diseases, it just decides that it’s not going to grow one year and then it will grow the next, and it’s very difficult to establish in the hop yards. So really, they’re looking for a hop to replace it, and this is a daughter of ruaca, and the thinking is that if they get something that works really well, they may well replace Rakau And I believe you might be getting a chance to brew with this Rhys?

Rhys Pillai 38:13
Yeah, so we’re lucky to be part of the Brax brewing programme again. Thanks to Charles Faram, last year we got to trial 104 and 105 they were a bit more towards the citrusy stone fruit characters, 106 for us, we used quite a lot of Rakau. As Brian just said, everyone’s still paying for it because it’s insanely expensive.

Will Rogers 38:38
So with with Rakau, you get about 500 kilos to the acre, whereas we would consider 800 kilos to a tonne really to be the sort of commercial break even point. So it’s the yield is so low that they said, Okay, we’ll grow it for you, but you’re gonna have to pay the equivalent,

Rhys Pillai 39:06
yeah, the 109, where that’s only grown on two farms, I think, at the minute, and there’s only about 1500 kilos, I think, worldwide this year. But, yeah, we’re on the farm, Mac Hops farm, and they were two days away from picking it. And I’ve all the other hops we got smell on the fields, nectar and everything. I’ve never smelled something so you could smell it like walking from quite far away, and then the rub on it. It’s so intense I can’t remember what beer it was in over there. Again, it’s just shone through similar characteristics, again, to the Rakau, but maybe a bit more tropical fruit and underlying bits of it, again, passion fruit sticking through. Yeah. Again, really excited to trial brew this. Yeah,

Will Rogers 39:57
yeah, I must confess that the pepper and spice finish my tasting notes from the day. And I, I think I had, I’d actually got to the point of saturation, which, for those of you that know me, well, it means I was sniffing some hops that day. So yeah, I still get the pepper and spice, but I’m getting massive amounts of sweet tropical. Yeah, yeah, incredible perceived sweetness to it.

Mark Dredge 40:25
Now. It smells amazing. And what’s the breeding priorities over there at the moment? Are they? Are they just seeking more and more aroma, or is there other priorities around that?

Will Rogers 40:35
So despite their high UV, they’re not really positioned to grow alpha, and a lot of their varieties are relatively high alpha, but as soon as you have to start shipping hops around the world, it becomes uneconomic to compete in that that very low price Alpha market. So they’re they’re really putting themselves in the niche of intense aroma. So, yeah, we had the joy of actually going to the breeding plots at plant food research. And so Dr Ron is retired now, and Kerry is the breeder there now, and and he took us around the plot. And you know, they’ve got some incredible, incredible plants in the in the pipeline. And you know, you can see if they feel that they can beat these last two it’s exciting things to come.

Brian Dickson 41:42
How much do, how much does picking Windows come into it in New Zealand? Because I know you, you and I haven’t been in us a few times, there’s so many the popular varieties where their ideal picking window are all exactly the same. So something has to give. Something has to get picked early. Sometimes get picked late. So a lot of time you don’t actually maybe get certain varieties at their absolute best, because some varieties like Columbus get prioritised for their alpha, whilst, if you smell Columbus and pit a little bit earlier, it’s like a it’s a very different hop. I guess New Zealand’s got less varieties full stop. I guess it’s got less acreage. I guess less farmers, less farmers, less everything. But yeah, Nelson Sauvin’s actually the biggest acre out there. So I guess you come up a new hop varieties they’re all landing exactly the same time as Nelson sarvan said, in terms of picking window that’s eventually going to cause issues down the line, presumably.

Will Rogers 42:34
Yeah, it’s a very good point Brian, actually, and they being very careful to select hops outside of the picking window of other varieties, so that they’re building up, so that growers can’t just grow a single variety, or they can, but they don’t get a return on their investment, so they have to, you build out your harvest window with varieties that pick in order. So it’s not just a simple question of brewers want this hot so I’m going to grow it because it needs to fit in with the picking window of everything else, but that they’re doing a lot of work on breeding side to bring varieties through that there are things you can do to affect when a hop brightens as well at the start of the season. If you if you train, we call it Training. So when you go out and put the string the hop onto the string that actually has a direct relationship on when the hop will be be ripe and harvested later on in the season. And so you can bring the harvest time forward by by stringing earlier, you can use nitrogen in in the month before harvest, that will actually push the harvest time back, because the plant suddenly decides it’s got more food and carries on growing, rather than than setting the cones. And

there’s a couple of other things you can do, but I don’t want to bore everybody, but if you want to know, I’ll fill you in later. So thanks for your time, everybody. I hope that’s been interesting, and you’ve had an advanced preview of the New Zealand harvest, so that those samples actually only arrived a couple of weeks ago, and the first container arrives fairly soon. Exciting times.

Patrick Whittle 44:30
Now it’s time for this week’s five minutes for Faram, where I joined Don from cotsville based brewery, Hawkston, where we talk hops beer and Irish pubs. Hello, everyone. I’m here at Hawkston Brewery today with Don, who is your brewing Director here at Hawkstone. So we’re going to do our Five Minutes with Faram segment. We’re going to go through sort of Don’s favourite beers, favourite hops and all sorts of things like that. So start off the session, Don, what’s your favourite hop?

Don Burke 44:54
I think favourite hopper is much weaker. I think it’s it’s quite a universal hop that can be used in IPAs and lagers. It’s quite versatile, and it throws out some beautiful, fruity flavours and quite grassy as well. Yeah, lovely stuff. So do you brew a lot with that in your beers here? Or we don’t have it in any of our beers here, but, but I have brewed with it quite a lot in the past. I’ve put it in lagers and IPS, and I’ve found fantastic Oh, happy days. So what would you say your favourite beer is, you can pick one from here or one from anywhere in the world. Really favourite beer, I think one was a really kind of sparked my attention in brewing was the Cloudwater DIPA V3

Patrick Whittle 45:40

Don Burke 45:41
because before that, I’d never really had dippers, and my mate was like, Oh, you should tried his beer is like, 10 pounds a bottle, I was you on about? I tried it, and it ever since then, there was a spark in my brain went, That’s how beer can be.

Patrick Whittle 45:56
Yeah, right.

Don Burke 45:57
And it just stands out in my mind as a standout beer. By it’s delicious, happy days.

Patrick Whittle 46:03
So say you’re drinking one of these DIPA beers. What would you pair that with food wise? Have you got, like, a go to dish or?

Don Burke 46:09
I think a DIPA is quite intense flavours. I think it would be like strong cheeses. Like a nice cheese board with some caricature charcuterie. Sorry,

Patrick Whittle 46:20
yeah, cold meats.

Don Burke 46:26
Oh, sorry. Sorry I’m not very good at pronouncing things, but yeah, cold meats and strong cheeses.

Patrick Whittle 46:33
Happy Days, no, we get quite varied answers on that one. So you sometimes get yeah things like cheese is a pretty popular one.

Don Burke 46:39
Because it kind of cuts through flavour and like it, like moves the saliva on your moat so you taste more.

Patrick Whittle 46:47
Definitely opens up your palate. I guess we get other answers, like we get smash burgers, steaks, that sort of thing. Quite often. If people say, like, a Stout’s their favourite beer, they like, I’ll just drink it on its own, because it’s like a meal on its own anyway. Sort of full body flavour, that sort of thing. So, so have you got any like favourite pubs, either in England or across the world, or

Don Burke 47:08
One pub that I love is a it’s like a brew pub on the edge of Ireland is called Dior Corridonia. So it’s Irish, like in an Irish speaking region in Ireland, near Dingle, and they brew their own beers. The stouts are phenomenal, and it’s just like on it’s the last town before the Atlantic Ocean, so last time before America, and you just got the roaring waves coming in, sitting in the beer garden, enjoying a nice point is is just a wonderful place to be.

Patrick Whittle 47:40
Very nice indeed. So obviously, we’re at Hawkston today, as you can tell from the big thing in the background. So when you’re brewing, sort of day to day, what’s one item that you can’t live without in the brewery?

Don Burke 47:51
Probably the wrench, the RJT wrench.

If I didn’t have that, I’d be like trying to open botls to my hand.

Patrick Whittle 47:59
And breaking all your fingers.

Don Burke 48:01

Patrick Whittle 48:03
So when you, when you are brewing in the brewery, do you have like, a go to, like playlists, song, radio station, podcasts that you listen to, or?

Don Burke 48:11
Podcast like, I don’t really listen podcast while I’m one I’m brewing. But like, the this week in Craft Beer podcast is, like, a great podcast to listen to if you’re if you want to listen to a podcast while you’re brewing, but music wise, generally, trying to kind of listen to country music, okay? Like, Zach Brown Band, Chicken Fried that’s kind of good. Like

Patrick Whittle 48:40
to say they’re quite upbeat, yeah, like, I guess brewing such a physical job at some points, isn’t it? You’ve got to have that sort of energy behind you.

Don Burke 48:47
Happy white neck American guy just pounding out thetunes.

Patrick Whittle 48:54
Fair enough. Don’t know if I’ll give that one a listen, but on that one, so if you weren’t in brewing, obviously, you mentioned you’ve been to lots of different works, lots of different breweries previously. If you weren’t in brewing, what would you be doing instead, if you’ve got

Don Burke 49:08
I think I’d be in advertising. Like, imagine, I quite like thinking and talking about branding,

Patrick Whittle 49:14
yeah. Like marketing. What could be a marketing like me?

Don Burke 49:19
journalism, politics, in uni. Okay, so like, and I had my own brewery down in Portsmouth, and I love seeing the brand come to life. Like, I love describing what I want. Not very good at Photoshop, but I can, if I can get someone to do what I would like to make the brand I want. Yeah, I think that’s quite an interesting thing.

Patrick Whittle 49:42
Yeah, you could vision, yeah, the concept, yeah, exactly. So how did you go from politics and journalism then into brewing?

Don Burke 49:50
So after, after uni. So when I, when I was in uni, the iPhone came out, right? And apps came out. So like when I went into uni, journalism. Journalists were getting paid a decent amount of money. When I came out of uni, everyone was getting their news for free on apps. So journalists got paid rubbish money. So I didn’t know what I wanted to do for ages, and I was managing a bar in Frankfurt, in Germany. So I lived in Frankfurt for three years. I was living near a near brewery in Frankfurt, and I just used to go down on my days off and pick the brains of the brewer. And that’s kind of what, like, got my juices going my brain. I was like, I could do this. I like, I got quite interested in it, yeah. And then I moved from Frankfurt to Birmingham, and then I got a homebrew kid and started tinkering around at home in my kitchen. Yeah, so, and then I became a full time Brewer eight years ago.

Patrick Whittle 50:45
And you’ve been doing ever since, lovely stuff. So do you have a like an inspiration that either got you into brewing, or someone you aspire to brew with, or

Don Burke 50:55
John Kimmich? I’d love to brew with John Kimmich.

He He’s the head brewer and founder of Alchemist in America,

Patrick Whittle 51:04

Don Burke 51:06
as phenomenal brewery for like, IPA’s, he’s the one that came up with the whole New England style. Like, he’d just be a great guy to sit down for a day and brew with him or pick his brains, yeah.

Patrick Whittle 51:19
So, oh no. Very nice. So sort of outside of brewing. Go back outside of brewing. Now, do you have any sort of hobbies or interests outside the brewery?

Don Burke 51:28
Quite into f1 all right, yeah. So follow f1 by watch races every week.

I haven’t been to

f1 race since I was 12. I went to one once when I was 12 in the year 2000 and I used, I used, I go karting with my parents. Like every birthday I went karting. I used in my time sheets off to Formula One teams. Oh, I wanna be a Formula One driver? Never happens.

Patrick Whittle 51:55
Maybe they didn’t get message. Who do you support. Who do you follow?

Don Burke 52:01
Verstappen? So, yeah I follow Red Bull.

Patrick Whittle 52:04

Don Burke 52:05
Me and my girlfriend are born into F1. We both follow it religiously.

Patrick Whittle 52:11
There we go. Very nice. So it’s nice, nice when people have different interests outside of work, isn’t it? Especially something like sport is a big one that when we do these sorts of interviews, people always talk about sports. So no, definitely, there’s such a big following for f1 now.

Don Burke 52:23
Drive to survive really, really got people into it. Yeah, I watch rugby as well. I’m well into rugby. And obviously we won the six stations. So there we go. Ireland is rocky and rolling. I used to, I used to play rugby when by from age like 11 up until 21 but like, being working in the physical industry, like where I need all my limbs to not be broken, yeah, I would love to play it again. But, like, I don’t want to break my hand or break my leg, because then I wouldn’t be much, much use in the brewery.

Patrick Whittle 52:59
Yeah, you wouldn’t be very good just sort of sitting there watching everyone else do all the work again. Do all the work, I guess

Don Burke 53:04
That’s not what they pay me for,

Patrick Whittle 53:06
Not paid to be a spectator. So just a few, like quick fire questions, just to sort of finish up the segment as such. So what was the last beer that you brewed last year?

Don Burke 53:15
Was 3.8, so 3.8 pills is one of our core beers, and it’s one I really love nice, but probably one of my favourite beers that we brew, it’s just crisp, refreshing, and it’s not like nice, zesty hops, like we’ve got Nectaron and Tango and there’s a little bit Mosaic and some Cascade in there.

Patrick Whittle 53:36

Don Burke 53:37
It’s just a proper refreshing find, and that’s pretty much what we have every day after work,

Patrick Whittle 53:41

Don Burke 53:43
Like, I’ve been here a year, and we’ve been refining the recipes, and I think, I think it’s to a point now where it’s banging, absolutely banging.

Patrick Whittle 53:52
Yeah, it sounds like perfect summer drink by the sounds of it, yes,

Don Burke 53:54
yeah, definitely, yeah.

Patrick Whittle 53:55
And you’ve got a nice, sort of, like, open tap room here, haven’t you?

Don Burke 53:58
So, yeah, and we’re extending the beer garden. So I don’t know if you’ve seen we’ve moved some shipping containers and section out of square where there’s going to be open seating during the summer. Yeah, yeah. So that’s like, that’s gonna be

Patrick Whittle 54:12
So Fuggles or Golding.

Don Burke 54:15
I’ve never really brewed with, with much of either, to be fair, I think, I think Fuggles is probably win slightly over Goldings. I think there’s a little bit more to Fuggles, yeah,

but, and I think Fuggers works a little bit better in lager I think Utopian have used it quite well in some lagers, yeah. Goldings is a lot, lot more subtle.

So probably good, probably good in a golden ale, but probably not great in a in a lager.

Patrick Whittle 54:50
And that’s obviously what you guys do mainly here, isn’t it?

Don Burke 54:53
So we’re, yeah, pretty much 100% larger. It’s been larger focused for 19 years, since it was founded as Cotswold Brewing Company, so.

Patrick Whittle 55:02
If it’s not break, don’t fix that sort of thing.

Don Burke 55:03
Yeah, so, like, we’ve been known for lagers even, even since we changed names, were known for being like a lager brewery, brewing with ingredients from our native Cotswolds, like, especially the grain. Obviously, Jeremy Clarkson grows spring barley, which goes into our beers, yeah, so that that’s a core, like core stone, of of what we stand for. And obviously we’re working closely with you guys to try and move some, some of our beers, hopefully, most of our viewers to British hops. Yeah. So it’s like seeing what, seeing what we

where we’ve got with the experimental hops in the Hare Razor. I think there’s, there’s some phenomenal thing that’s going to be going to be coming out of British hops development next few years.

Patrick Whittle 55:57
Yeah, definitely. And it’s nice, obviously, to introduce the British hops into your recipes. It strengthens the whole brand, in a way, doesn’t it? Because obviously, with the spring baley, but Clarkson’s farm is only 20 minutes away, yeah, far away at all. So it’s nice to have that sort of all British in the beer, isn’t it really?

Don Burke 56:12
Yeah, definitely.

Patrick Whittle 56:13
It really strengthens the sort of reason why we should be using British products and that sort of stuff, so. #

Don Burke 56:17
And it’s better for the environment, because it doesn’t spend six months in the shipping birthday dinner coming off America or New Zealand or whatever.

Patrick Whittle 56:24

Don Burke 56:26
It’s much more. It’s much better, from environmental point of view, to be as local oriented and getting getting ingredients from your local area as possible by shop locally, like buy local produce, food miles.

Patrick Whittle 56:43
Yeah, definitely. That’s really important, obviously, because the environment’s always a big thing in the news, isn’t it? And how there is a lot of there can be a lot of news as well on the sort of food and drink industry to help reduce those food miles, because we fly everything from everywhere, don’t we, so if you can sort of do your bit to be as British as possible, it’s only going to help the whole course, isn’t it? Yes, yeah, exactly No. That’s brilliant. So final question, what’s next for you in the industry?

Don Burke 57:06
I think, like, this is just going to grow and grow. Like we’re in the summer, we’re going to be launch our website in Europe. Well, people can obviously still go on the website, but again, order anything, but like, we will be shipping to Europe in in in the summer, so people be able to buy beers in Germany and Netherlands, in Ireland. So that that’s going to, like, increase sales massively. Yeah, I also we’ve got massive drive in the on trade at the moment. So we’re driving, driving sales into the pubs where supporting, supporting publicans with at moment, we’ve got a promotion called bar of the week, or pub of the week, yeah. So we’re putting 500 pound bar tab behind a different pub every week, well, until eternity, or something like an example of a pub. We’ve got pub locally called Mousetrap, and they’ve they’ve had a 500 pound bar tab, they’ve been stockest, like for years, and their locals and people further afield, with our marketing power, so we’ve got nearly half million followers on Instagram, and it

Patrick Whittle 58:20
That makes a massive difference doesn’t it

Don Burke 58:21
And if we put up a post saying that there’s a 500 pound bar tab in a local pub, yeah, you can get some people driving 90 miles to go to a pub, and all it does is stop our beer, but it helps us and it helps the pub. So it’s like it goes both ways. Yeah, 500 pound doesn’t last very long if, no, I mean, driving from all over the country to get that, yeah, at least they can have sort of one pipe for free, and then they’re only going to then spend more. Yeah, and it like pubs are really suffering in the country, this country at the moment, like, I think every little bit helps that. Like, if you’re pushing more sales, more like, more people to to a certain pub, and we’re doing it every every week, to different pubs. I think it just helps the industry, like it’s a small bit, but it it helps certain people in the industry. Yeah, definitely. That’s really important, isn’t it, because then obviously you can keep creating great beer. That’s all different, because there’s a demand and a need for it, isn’t there a little incentive like that to a few pubs across the country, if it makes it, if it makes it. If it makes a big difference to your company, it makes a big difference to lots of people. So I think, I think what we’ve seen during covid is, or after covid is a lot, a lot of people have forgotten about the pub, and people are just drinking, drinking at home, which is fine. If they’re buying off, they can buy off the website, but, but pubs are such an intrinsic cultural thing for our country that we should keep them alive and like, yeah, they’re getting expensive, but there needs to be some, some way we can support it as an industry, because the government is supporting another,

Patrick Whittle 59:52
yeah, no, I think that’s really nice place to end our Five Minutes with Faram segment. So thank you very much, Don and everyone. Well doesn’t sound like anyone needs to check out your Instagram because it sounds like it hasn’t that follows already. But yeah, no , thank you very much. Don. So yeah, brilliant. Thank you.

Don Burke 1:00:08

Maddie 1:00:16
embark on a hoppy adventure with our revamped hop walk on tour. Explore farm up close as you hop on and off our ferrum coach immersing yourself in a world of hops. Enjoy a fun hoppy meal during the day and unwind with an evening at ferrum HQ. This new era of hop walk promises an unforgettable experience not to be missed. Sign up today and.



The podcast conversation focused on the unique characteristics of New Zealand hops and the innovative breeding processes that create their distinct varieties. Will and the brewing panel talk all about the aromas you can expect from these hops, the flavours they produce in the beer and the best beer styles to pair them with, going into depth about NZ varieties such as Nectaron, Superdelic, and Rakau.

This episode also features a thrilling chat between Paddie and Don – brewing director for Cotswold based brewery Hawkstone. Where they cover everything from strong cheeses, to the best pubs in the world.

New Zealand hops' unique characteristics and breeding process

New Zealand Varieties Explained

Don Burke - 5 Minutes with Faram