Antipodean delights

The big news from the Rainbow Beers Project 2016 draw was that the British breweries will be collaborating with some NZ breweries this year.  This excites me a lot. I’m hoping, firstly, for some proper style variety next year.  I felt this year was just too overly sour.  I love sours but in 2015 it seems everyone is jumping on the sour bandwagon and, in most cases, falling dead on their arses.  I’m also hoping they bring some of their lovely hops with them to the table.  I’m a huge fan of hops from New Zealand and Australia.  I find their flavours more delicate and subtle than the big American in your face hops which I find can be a bit harsh and one dimensional.

Here are the results of the draw (also excited to see Burning Sky are involved)

Violet – Partizan and Panhead brewery
Indigo – Siren and Garage project
Blue – Wild Beer and 8Wired
Green – Hawkshead and Yeastie Boys
Yellow – Magic Rock and Fork and Brewer
Orange – Burning Sky and Liberty
Red – Beavertown and Parrot Dog

Getting back to hops. I thought I’d detail some characteristics of some antipodean hops, my experiences with them and suggest some beers made with them.  No hops are native in New Zealand and Australia, most are a cross breed of various European hops such as Saaz.  There is a great breeding program in both countries which produces outstanding new hops quite regularly.  I love the variation and depth of flavours you get from these hops.  They are not just going to hit you with grapefruit.


These are probably the most recognised Australian hops, added late in the brew the big alpha acid hop gives passion fruit, peach and citrus aromas. They are dual purpose so can be used for early bittering too.


Ella (formerly Stella but changed for obvious legal reasons) is a hop which best suits pilsners and lagers as it is similar to the European noble hops.  When used in the boil it can give a beer a spicy finish or when dry hopped it imparts floral flavours and star anise.  Probably the most well known beer is Brewdog’s IPA is Dead series Ella single hop which is incredibly floral.


Enigma is just that, a bloody enigma.  I have used this in homebrewing to make a Black IPA.  It has many possible flavour profiles and I wasn’t sure what I was going to get.  I was hoping for a strong dark berry flavour but at first there was nothing.  It took 6 weeks in the bottle for it to eventually develop a melon flavour.  Other flavours reported are pinot gris and pineapple.


Ahhh lovely Rakau, I’ve made a Double IPA with this and it was deeeeelicious. Hailing from New Zealand this hop gave my beer a big juicy apricot tang. It has high alpha acids but low cohumulone so makes it great for making hoppy beers which are not too bitter.


I have used Motueka in a couple of saisons.  It comes across quite limey and I find the citrus quality plays nicely with the spicy saison yeast. It’s quite versatile, I’ve seen saisons, pilsners and big high gravity beers made with this hop commercially.

Nelson Sauvin

Anspach & Hobday make a Nelson Sauvin Sour Saison which I recommend to cider or wine drinkers.  Cider drinkers because the sourness of the beer is akin to a cider and wine drinkers because this hop was named after Sauvignon Blanc for a reason.  It imparts grapey, gooseberry type flavours similar to the wine. I find it tricky to get right and also don’t think it suits many styles.


Another New Zealand hop variety, this time with a low alpha content but high on mandarin flavor which best used as late as possible in the boil/dry hop and I feel best supported by another hop to get the bitterness up.

Pacific Gem

This is a great bittering hop imparting wood and dark berries, great for dark strong beers such as strong Belgian style ales. Not to be confused with Pacifica which is very marmaladey. I may use both Pacific Gem and Pacifica in a scotch ale recipe I’m thinking about.

Southern Cross

Great bittering hop delivering pine and lemon flavours, found in most NZ lagers.

Beer recommendations

Arbor Ales – Why Kick a Moo Cow


Named after Waikikamukau (which is a colloquial term in NZ for a small rural town) this beer is heavy on the NZ hops using Southern Cross and Rakau and then dry hopped with Green Bullet. I picked this up in my local M&S.

Stone & Wood Pacific Ale


This is one of my go to chill out beers.  This is made using Australian barley, wheat and Galaxy hops. It is golden in colour with a pleasant peach and lemon taste.  It’s not too in your face so great for a session.

The Kernal Pale Ale Motueka

I think I had this a few years ago now at their taproom and it was the first time I’d ever heard of Motueka. I loved the fruitiness prevalent in this beer and the dry resinous finish. They also produce a great Rakau IPA.

Renaissance – Marlborough Pale Ale (MPA)


I really dig Renaissance’s beers, this one in particular.  It’s a double IPA coming in at 8.5%. It’s their take on the big American double IPA’s but using NZ hops.  It’s a riot of apricot, melon, pine and pineapple but also has a great malt backbone.

Tuatara – Aotearoa Pale Ale


Another beer taking the American style of big hopping and using NZ hops.  They use  Pacific Jade, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade and Motueka.  It’s got a big marmalade smell and a lovely citrus and herb taste. The bottle is pretty cool too.

Yeastie Boys – Pot Kettle Black


I’m pretty sure when I first bought this it was marketed as  Black IPA which just didn’t fit as it was just too roasty but whatever, there’s a big debate about what makes a Black IPA a Black IPA.  It’s now labeled as a NZ porter, it’s rich with chocolate but with a slight orange finish from the hops.  I haven’t had many dark antipodean beers but I’m attending Hop Burns and Black’s All Black event tomorrow night which will be showcasing some dark beers from down under which I am very much looking forward to. This may result in me adding to this post afterwards.


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