The annual Bridge Road Harvest Ale release has become an event of note for both beer lovers looking for a hoppy new drop and the hop growers at Hop Products Australia, who learn much about how some of their experimental hop varieties will perform. Each year, head brewer Ben Kraus selects a different, as-yet-unnamed hop variety from the Rostrevor Farm just down the road from his Beechworth brewery, picks the entire crop and throws it into a beer as it is, still fresh and wet from the bines. This year, however, there weren't enough hop cones on his chosen variety so the intention was to pick two types, brew two batches and then blend them for the final beer. That will still happen, with all bottled product and a later release of kegs featuring the blend.
But before then there is a small number of kegs that have been released featuring one of the beers in unblended form. The reason for this is that the brewers were blown away by the characteristics they obtained from one variety. Ben says it has similarities with the unique Sorachi Ace, originally developed in Japan, and that they get "mango, melon and apricot as well as yoghurt and a curd like texture" from it. "I think it's the best one we have trialled because it has such a cool character," he says. "We've used it in such massive quantities that there is a lot of resin." When the blended version follows, expect a more pronounced hoppy aroma from the second variety. Look out soon for a new version of the Dark Harvest, originally brewed with Mikkeller, a new version that is a return to the original versionâ?¦