17 Apr 2024

Craft beer: Taranaki back-country spawns 'remarkably different' hops

8:08 am on 17 April 2024
Shining Peak head brewer Jesse Sigurdsson

Shining Peak head brewer Jesse Sigurdsson tests the latest batch. Photo: Supplied / Roger Richardson

A Taranaki brewer is excited about the distinctive flavour of beer made from hops grown in the region's hill country.

Shining Peak Brewing says its Oapui Road fresh hop pilsner has been a big hit with local punters and international tourists alike.

Head Brewer Jesse Sigurdsson hopes the Taranaki back-country flavour will secure the burgeoning industry.

"We've found the hops are absolutely stunning. They have amazing expression, aroma and nice bitterness levels imparted in the beer," Sigurdsson said.

"We can say we're using local ingredients and that's a real plus."

He likened commercial hop cultivation to vineyards, with different aromas and flavours coming through due to climatic differences.

"Our hops are remarkably different to the same varieties from the Tasman Motueka region," he said.

"Regions have different expressions and we're really seeing that in the hops here."

Sigurdsson said some farming friends had joined a local growing trial funded by the regional development agency Venture Taranaki.

"A couple of really good mates of mine have some land out at Tarata which is inland into the backcountry, about 40 minutes out of New Plymouth," he said.

"Traditionally the land had been used for sheep farming and a bit of cattle grazing, and they were keen to diversify the land a little bit."

The acre of hops had thrived in the funded trial, which is into its second year.

"We actually made a beer last year when we used a little bit of the hops but we were quite restrained in how much we used," Sigurdsson said.

"We've brewed the same beer this year using a lot more of the hops."

Shining Peak Brewing

Shining Peak Brewing Photo: Supplied / Roger Richardson

The next step

Given the positive outcome, Shining Peak Brewing would like to see funding for the project extended.

The next step would call for further investment with a drying kiln, harvesting and sorting machinery, and an advanced packaging system with nitrogen flushed bags required.

But Sigurdsson, who grew up near Inglewood, conceded a glut in the international market and infrastructure costs could threaten local production.

"These hop farms in Taranaki, there are two of them, they are in the very early stages," he said.

"At the moment you can only use them when they're fresh. You've only got a two-week window to use them, and 48 hours from picking them before they go stale."

He hoped to use locally grown Taranaki hops to brew his beer all year round.

The top hops producing countries worldwide are the United States, European nations like Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia, and China and Australia.

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