new zealand hops

New Zealand Hops with Megan Anderson

It’s a busy show today, as Megan Anderson and Tara Nurin both join Herlinda Heras, who is back from a three-week trip to Estonia and Finland. Tara Nurin writes about the business of beverages and spirits for Forbes magazine, from her home base in Camden, New Jersey. Megan Anderson is the representative of New Zealand hops growers. Herlinda was in Finland judging the national beer competition and the national Sahti competition. She was the first American judge in either competition. Sahti is the Finnish national home brew.

tara nurin

Tara Nurin’s new book cover.

Herlinda describes the Finnish habit of taking a sauna (which they pronounce “SOW-na” not “SAW-na” as English speakers tend to say) and then plunging into the cold lake and going back and forth between the sauna and the lake. Steve says, “No, thank you!” Herlinda says it got rid of her jet lag pretty quickly. It’s the cleanest country she has ever been to. They have free health care for everyone. Car registration and traffic fines are scaled by income. They have very clean water and their lager beers tasted clean and delicious and so were the Baltic Porters. Herlinda also visited Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

New Zealand hops have a special reputation among beer fans. Her organization is a cooperative of twenty-seven growers. They have been growing hops in this reagion of New Zealand for 150 years. They grow some of the best hops in the world, such as Nelson Sauvin and Riwaka. Megan is here to promote a new one, called Nectaron. Some of their hops have trademarked and registered names. See them all here at the NZ Hops website. Some have exotic names derived from other languages such as Moutere (which seems derived from French where it would be “moo-TER”). They say “MOO-ter-ee.” One is called Mouteka. Nectaron is named for Dr. Ron Bitzen, a botanist who worked on hops his entire career and who created Nectaron out of 12 years of R&D. Nelson Sauvin was created from their breeding program and released in 2000. It’s a very distinctive hop.  They have limited supply, 1800 acres, and they are under 1% of the world supply, but they have special qualities.

Sahti is one of the oldest styles of alcoholic beverage in Europe, and does not use hops because when it was developed they did not use hops. They use juniper as a flavoring. Herlinda found that the Sahti brews she was judging were quite similar and she had to find a way to differentiate among them. Also, it is not carbonated. Next week she will bring some to this show, to taste with Mark Carpenter.

Tara Nurin has just published her book, A Woman’s Place Is In The Brewhouse: A forgotten history of alewives, witches, brewsters and CEOs. She has her first official book event Sunday at Urban Roots Brewery in Sacramento, California. She is planning another book signing with Russian River Brewing Co., probably for December.

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Our sponsor The Beverage People / Fermenter’s Warehouse has everything you ever need to make beer and many other fermented food and drinks at home.

Lagunitas Stereohopic IPA uses hop oil. I small bottle of hop oil can flavor a large batch and ultimately much more efficient use of water. Megan points out that the botanists spend a lot of time “chasing flavors” and she credits the impetus of the craft beer industry for pushing the demand for better more interesting hops.

Megan Anderson’s first job in the beer market was at Samual Adams, as a beer salesperson and trainer, for ten years. Megan moved to Idaho to work for a hop company called Mill 95. There, she met some New Zealanders. She found a company in Kalamazoo, Michigan that makes a hop oil. Then she met Totally Natural Solutions, that produces a totally natural hop oil. Her dream job materialized with the New Zealand hop growers offered her a job. In New Zealand there are some 5th and 6th generations of children growing hops in the fields of their family farms. In 2010 she started a home brew club and one of the members was Jack McAuliffe, the founder of New Albion. It was the first new brewery founded here after Prohibition. They made the first American pale ale.

Natalie Cilurzo is in Tara’s book, as CEO of Russian River Brewing Co. which is a sponsor of Brew Ha Ha.

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