Uraidla Brewery has once again teamed up with Mount Compass hop farm Hills Hops to produce Horned God: a hyper-seasonal beer showcasing the flavours of fresh-off-the-vine hops.
Uraidla Brewery’s Horned God West Coast IPA is an homage to local hops
While most of the South Australian beverage production industry turns to the year’s wine harvest come March, it is also a very special time for our states brewers: hop harvest.
As all keen beer drinkers know, hops are a key ingredient in the brewing process, and throughout the year they’re generally used in a dried and / or pelletised form.
Each March, though, crafty brewers with a penchant for fresh produce will organise to have a batch of freshly picked hops (referred to as wet hops) delivered to their breweries for a hyper-seasonal and never-to-be-repeated brew.
Up in the Hills, Uraidla Brewery has just released its wet-hop beer for 2020: the second edition of Horned God.
This year, just as in the inaugural version of the beer, Uraidla’s founder and head brewer, Oscar Matthews, sourced some fresh-off-the-vine Centennial hops from Mount Compass hop farm, Hills Hops.
As last year was the first time Oscar had brewed with fresh product from Hills Hops, this year has been all about tweaking and refining.
Oscar has paired the unprocessed Centennial with a US-grown pelletised, and a cryo-powder version of the same variety.
The brewer’s aim was to showcase the intricacies of the Australian variety on a backdrop of the North American version.
“Centennial has a little bit more kick to it and suited the IPA that we were going for,” Oscar says.
“You get some quite lemon zesty-type characteristics, you get a little bit of those pine needle characteristics as well, and a little bit of fresh grassiness. It’s just a variety I’ve always liked and wanted to keep working with.”
Horned God’s base beer recipe has also changed. Oscar was not certain last year what characteristics the fresh Centennial would have, so he produced a more complex base beer to create depth.
Now that he knows what to expect, the 2020 edition of Horned God has a toned-down malt and water profile to allow the hop profile to be more prominent.
“I wanted to allow the hops to be the forefront of the beer, so that’s why we went for that lighter base, in terms of we kept it very simple – there was some pale malt, some wheat malt, and oats,” Oscar says.
“It’s given it this lovely golden colour with some very slight tint of haze, because we’ve left the beer unfiltered.
“[You’ll get] a lot of fresh lemon zest out of the beer. It’s quite a citrus-driven hop, Centennial, but then you get a little bit of that pine needle and grassiness to it, but it’s not too prominent.
“And then it’s got a nice dry finish, because it is that West Coast style, which generally has a drier finish, but we’ve also toned the bitterness down.”
Just as each vintage of wine speaks to the conditions that produced the fruit that year, the 2020 Horned God will showcase this year’s “a slower, later harvest,” and next year’s iteration will be different once again.
It’s a concept that plays well into Oscar’s hands as a brewer.
“I’ve always liked the creative aspect of coming up with the new beers, so it’s a good time for me,” he says.
“It’s also just a fun time of year, you know? Hops are a big part of our beer. We use a lot of them and we’re always experimenting with them, so it’s always nice when it’s hop harvest time.”