Every ingredient in beery glass of beer plays a crucial role. Without getting the balance right, you're not going to end up with a delicious beer. Yet, there’s arguably no time of the year more exciting for many brewers as one that focuses on one ingredient alone: hop harvest. The huge rise in the number of wet hopped beers – brewed with hops transported to the brewery as soon as they've been plucked from their bines – is a clear a sign of the fascination harvest holds for both brewers and drinkers.
There are scores in the pipeline we know about – and two separate festivals in Launceston and Sydney dedicated to them – and, while in parts of the country the hop harvest hasn’t even begun, there are already beers hitting shelves and taps, among them Astra Man from Stomping Ground.
The beer features Astra, picked at Ellerslie Hop's farm in the King Valley on the morning of brew day, and was delivered to Melbourne stockists within 24 hours of being canned; clearly, this is a beer putting freshness front and centre, even stating on the label: “Canned on 1st March 2018”.
Astra is known for both its sweet citrus and tropical fruit aromas as well as its herbal qualities. And, in this single hop beer, the experience is all about those aromatic hop qualities, with a light malt profile and gentle bitterness. The Astra produces melon and herbal aromas, along with – possibly a result of using them fresh – some light grassy and floral notes. There's some underlying honey too, which becomes more obvious as the beer starts to warm.