In 2021, the Brewers Association recognized the distinct influence and popularity New Zealand-grown hops enjoy in the marketplace when it added New Zealand-style Pale Ale and New Zealand-style IPA to its list of official styles. BA guidelines for NZ-style Pale Ale state, “Overall impression is a well integrated easy drinking, refreshing pale ale style with distinctive fruity hop aromas and flavours exhibiting attributes such as tropical fruit, passionfruit, and/or stone-fruit, cut grass and diesel.”
And indeed, demand is growing. American brewers have ranked the NZ Hops Ltd. co-op’s brand-new Nectaron hop fifth in a list of specific varieties they want more of, according to a 2021 Brewers Association member survey. It’s a rare level of reverence and recognition for a first-year hop – the next youngest to make the list went to market 13 years ago.
BA Chief Economist Bart Watson described its position as having “room to grow based on craft brewer demand. Basically brewers would use more of it if they could get more.”
Described as having a “piney, citrusy, resinous and tropical fruit aroma … with notes of orange and pineapple (that) deliver a faint sour and sweetness and finish(es) with a slightly resinous and piney bitterness,” Necatron was crafted over 17 years in collaboration with New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research. NZ Hops Ltd.’s most playful hop displays high levels of tropical fruit character, namely pineapple and passion fruit, as well as stone fruit (peach) and citrus (grapefruit). Nectaron lends itself perfectly to a range of beer styles including NEIPA, IPA, pale ale and lager and is best used late or when dry hopping. This proprietary triploid aroma type is a full sister to Waimea.
Where can you find it?
After sampling Nectaron in its experimental stages during successive harvest trips to New Zealand, Firestone Walker Brewing brewmaster Matt Brynildson regularly uses it in some of his most most heavily promoted beers, including in the single-hop hazy IPA Propagator series.
“My faith in the Nectaron hop was happily rewarded,” Brynildson says. “This is just a beautiful IPA loaded with tropical New Zealand style.”
Sean McClurg, head brewer at Jackson Hole’s Roadhouse Brewing, favors the Kush NZIPA he brewed using Nectaron as its base above any other he’s brewed during his four-year tenure at the brewery.
“This first one (in the brewery’s new Kush IPA series) is just so good. I really hope the remaining ones will be this good,” he says. “So far the feedback from avid regulars in the tap room is they love it. When our entire staff likes something … well, I don’t think anyone has had anything bad to say.”
Growers are raving about this year’s fresh Nectaron crop, which they harvested in February and March (New Zealand’s seasonal calendar sits opposite North America’s). Both first-year planted fields and mature plantings yielded good crops, with quality manager and grower liaison Lauren Yap noting, “The quality of the crop has been exceptionally high, with great aromas, a lot of cones harvested off of the bines abundant with golden lupulin.”
Operations and Supply Manager David Woods adds, “The early indications for crop quality across the board are very good and we expect the brewers will be very happy with any 2022 product they receive.”
Nectaron yields were high but the forward contract demand on these varieties is also very strong and there will be very limited availability for spot sales. North American sales director Devin Biondi has already sold the 2022 crop and is taking pre-orders for 2023.