From Farm to Glass: WA XPA Highlights the Uniquely Grown Hops of Western Australia
May 20, 2023
This West Australian Pale Ale is an ode to independent Spirits within our community that make up our great state. Brewed by our West Aussie brewers, for our West Aussie family, using only 100% West Aussie ingredients.
Highlighted in this unique brew are three distinct hop varieties grown in Western Australia. ‘Nugget’ offers citrus, lemon, and mint flavours with a spicy resinous undertone. ‘Victoria’ brings clean citrus fruit and piney resin notes, while ‘Beedelup’ adds intense tropical and stone-fruit aromas with a touch of resin and spice.
A joint venture between Beerfarm and Liquor Barons, two of WA’s independent local businesses, celebrates the friends and family that contributed to its creation.
Olivia and Trey from Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm will be answering some questions on behalf of the West Australian Growers Association that contributed to this beer, which is: Karridale Hop Farm in Karridale WA, Preston Valley Hops in Donnybrook WA and Great Southern Hops in Denmark WA.
Tell us about the hop varietals used in this brew and why they’re so unique to WA?
All hops that have gone into this beer were all grown this year (2023) on small hop farms in the southwest of Western Australia. Three varieties went into this beer.
Nugget: for bittering. A while back one of the most widely grown hops in the US, most known for its clean bittering. Here in WA we routinely get beautiful fresh citrus/lemon and mint, with a spicey resinous backbone. WA Nugget is like no other Nugget on earth. A true testament to terroir and regionality. Brewers walk through the hop yard each year, and every year they ask the same question..."What's this hop, it's awesome, and can I get some this year?"
Victoria: One of our favourite hops to grow, Victoria is regularly the finest hops in the yard. Smelling of beautiful clean citrus fruit and a piney resin that is uniquely Australian, Victoria is slowly becoming a favourite of local brewers as well. Large, dense cones filled with gold lupulin bursting at the seams, defines this truly gorgeous hop. West Australian brewers have embraced Victoria from the outset, each year buying every last kilo, as its not available from their normal suppliers.
Beedelup: Fortuitously bred in Australia around 15 years ago, but not commercially grown to any great extent. The rhizomes were originally brought in from the Eastern states about 5 years ago by Aaron Davey at Preston Valley Hops, with rhizomes planted at Karridale Hop Farm in the first year and shortly after at Great Southern Hops. From the first season we knew something was special about this hop variety. Thorough testing and data collection identified the variety as a unique hop without a common name in Australia. After some deliberation the hop was named Beedelup, in recognition and in honour of WA's historical hop growing area around Pemberton. Water from Beedelup Falls (Beedelup meaning place of rest) was used to irrigate those early hops over 70 yrs ago. Beedelup has intense tropical and stone-fruit aromas with a healthy dose of resin and spice. A truly modern hop for modern brewing.
How do the propagation and planting methods impact the hop growth?
Most planting on our farms is with cloned plants grown in a nursery. This allows for far greater strike rate compared with rhizomes. Plants can get results in the first year, however they don't normally hit their stride until year 3.
What is an ideal climate for hop growth, in particular these varietals?
Hops produce best under specific climatic and soil conditions. A minimum of 120 frost free days are needed for flowering. Direct sunlight and long day length (15 hours or more) is also needed. Hops need to reach heights exceeding 5 metres between spring emergence and the Summer solstice, no easy feat! As a consequence of day length and season length, hop production is limited to latitudes between 35 and 55 degrees. The hop plant requires ample moisture in the spring followed by warm summer weather. In dry climates the hop plant will produce best if supplemental irrigation is provided.
What kind of flavours and aromas do they impart?
Nugget: Beautiful fresh citrus/lemon and mint, with a spicey resinous backbone.
Victoria: Smelling of beautiful, strong clean citrus fruit and a piney resin
Beedelup: Intense tropical and stone-fruit aromas with a healthy dose of resin and spice. A truly modern hop for modern brewing.
How do different seasons throughout WA affect hop growth?
Biggest seasonal impact is our Spring. We need to have a strong, sunny and warm spring in order for our crop to hit the desired height before they set burrs(pre cone flowers). A slow, grey spring will have impacts on yield more than anything. As we do not have a super cold winter, our plants do not properly go dormant, hence a little less vigorous in spring compared to regions that will have snow cover during winter.
What was the most interesting part of working with Beerfarm/ Liquor Barons on this beer release?
I believe the connection to the product from all the producers was clearly evident. Unlike many products that get brewed by Beerfarm and stocked by Liquor Barons, this beer was filled with ingredients that were hand selected and picked by the community of people that were producing the beer. Connecting with the land in which the ingredients came from and honouring the season and region with such a special beer. Harvesting with people from so many different aspects of commercial brewing was a real buzz.
How will you be enjoying WA XPA?
I will be enjoying WA XPA with family and friends that helped make this whole thing possible. This is kind of a dream come true in a way. We rely heavily on family, friends and the brewers we work with to make our little hop farms work. This beer embodies all of these attributes, and we can't wait to crack a can of WA XPA!
The WA XPA will be available from Monday May 22 at any Liquor Barons in Western Australia or down at the farm!
Cheers to WA!