International brewers flock to Tasman for booming hop season

Beer brewers and hop distributors from around the world have flocked to the Tasman region this week as harvest gets into full swing.

The New Zealand hop industry has gone from strength to strength in recent years with this year promising more of the same.

NZ Hops general manager of sales and marketing Blair Stewart said the industry has seen incredible growth.

"Hop production in New Zealand has gone crazy really. And it really rides off the back of the craft beer boom which over the last fifteen years has really increased five fold."

In 2019 New Zealand produced around 1500 metric tonnes of hops. And this year it's expected that will grow to around 2500.

It's a big industry now, worth about $90 million to the economy, with most hops grown in Nelson.

Dean Palmer, of Hinetai Hops in Tapawera, said showcasing the hops to the international customers is really important.

"For me it's great to make that connection, all the way from the farm to their brewery and to see how excited they are."

Palmer said there's been incredible growth in the region recently.

"You know the Tasman region is renowned for horticulture and it's perfectly suited to hops and that comes through in the product as well.

"So there has been extensive development, particularly in this area in the last seven to eight years."

One of those who has come from afar this week is Pascal Fritz from Yakima Chief Hops in the United States.

He said despite the long trip, it was worth it. "The aroma hops are unbelievable down here," Fritz said.

"New Zealand hops are so unique because they just bring a totally different quality compared to North America hops."

Paul Corbett, of Charles Faram in the UK, said they'd been buying New Zealand hops for decades and they keep getting "better and better".

"The new world flavours of the New Zealand hops are just unbeatable. You can't get anything like it in the UK."

While New Zealand still represents a small proportion of the international market, its reputation is growing.


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