Vastafarian - New fresh hop release is a nod to the Vastas

Posted on Thursday 04/05/2017

The hop harvest comes but once a year - and for 2017's harvest we’ve released our brand new Vastafarian 5.6% Green Hopped IPA, brewed with Nelson Sauvin and Riwaka in fresh hop form! 

Vastafarian is the baby of Carl Vasta, Tuatara founder and brewer, who has been creating hop harvest brews since 2011 when fresh hop beers were still in their infancy.

These days, the fresh hop harvest is an eagerly awaited date in the calendars of many a craft beer pundit, and such beers (brewed using hops fresh off the vine, as opposed to the perennially-used dried pellet form) are a staple release for many breweries. Several festivals are solely dedicated to the little green cone, such as Hopstock in Wellington, Fresh Hop in Auckland and Marchfest in Nelson.

Back in the day, before there were enough fresh hop beers released to even throw a dedicated festival together, the Vastas and Tuatara brew crew would pile into a van and roadie down to Mac Hop Farms in Motueka to collect our stash of fresh hops. Once safely chaperoned back to the Kapiti Coast, the brewing process would take place with friends, family and a BBQ. Oh and a few pints to celebrate..   

“Over the last couple of years we’ve chartered a plane to ensure the freshest of hops make it back to the coast for brewing,” says Brett Oliver, Tuatara Brewery Bossman. 

“It’s really important to get the fresh hop cones back to the brewery and into the brew kettle as soon as possible. Once the hop cones come off the vine, they start deteriorating. Brewed at their freshest, the intense piney, resinous flavour and aroma is most likely to come through in the beer.”

This year, as a nod to the Vastas and a throwback to hop harvests past, the crew decided to revert back to a hop roadie to collect the haul of fresh hops.

“We sent a crew down in the Landy and Tuatara keg van, and they helped the Mac Hops team bundle up our allocation of Riwaka and Nelson Sauvin fresh hops,” says Brett. 

“At the crack of dawn, they watched the fresh hops go through the massive harvester where the hop cones get plucked from the vines, and got amongst it with the Mac Hops team, bagging the cones in hessian sacks to take back to the brewery in Kapiti.”

It wouldn’t be a fresh hop roadie without a bit of a drama. A tight schedule gave way to a mercy dash from Motueka to Picton, several pleading phone calls to the Interislander and a desperate explanation of why they needed to hold fire until the convoy arrived.

The Landy and Keg Van made it with zero minutes to spare, and our triumph was celebrated with Mot Eureka Pilsner straight from the Landy taps.

The arrival back at the brewery has reached ritualistic proportions. Most hang around to see, smell and, in some cases, bathe in these wee sources of sensory overload (with a hop dive in the kettle).

“It’s impossible to describe the impact of such a small, seemingly innocuous cone,” says Tuatara Hospo Honcho, Corey Taylor. The smell is intense – piney, resinous, citrusy – the vibrancy of the green, and they feel quite delicate. Times that by a few sacks-full and the result is pretty amazing.”

Yeah, mon.

Vastafarian will be available on tap and in 500ml bottles around the country - read more about the beer on the Vastafarian product page.

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