Duo brews up idea for niche hop crop

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

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 Jones 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.

Topics:  granite belt

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