We all know Australia from its kangaroos, Ayers Rock and Lleyton Hewitt. The fact that Australia has been a hops nation since the late 1800’s is far less known. Hop Products Australia (HPA), part of the Barth-Haas Group, has been growing hops for more than 150 years on the Australian continent. Their hop farms Bushy Park and Rostrevor are two of the oldest operational hop farms in the world. Today, more than 90% of the Australian hops production is managed by HPA.
Tim Lord, hop farmer at Hop Products Australia (HPA)
"Since 1950 and together with HPA, we have been trying to grow different hop varieties by mixing male and female hops together. We have special breeding gardens at our disposal in Victoria in which we sow the result of 3000 controlled crossings. Each individual seed is then monitored by measuring some of its characteristics to see whether they are appealing enough to grow and whether they are interesting enough taste-wise to be presented to the brewers later on. This process can take up to 10 years. For the Ella hops, we sowed the first seed in 2001 but we only started commercialization in 2013. This means that we saw over 30 000 crossings come and go, from which only one variety was approved for commercialization. This was the Ella hops variety. It should be clear: traditional beer brewing actually starts with the hops."
"We currently have 255 hectares of hop fields in the Derwent Valley and 10 operational hops varieties. With this, we have put Tasmania on the map as a hop nation, besides sheep breeding and cultivation of poppies. Our hops are mostly unknown in Europe, so thanks Leffe Royale Ella, we hope to have sparked the curiosity of the 'old continent'."
Michael Dresel, Leffe brewmaster at AB InBev
"The role of the hop farmer in creating beers of which the quality of the hops is of utmost importance cannot be underestimated, as it is the case with Leffe. For example the season in which and the moment at which you harvest, impacts the taste of the hops as well as the beer. You can really taste this difference in your glass. The consistence of the quality of the beer therefore starts with the hop farmer."
"Because of the fresh air and the excellent climate in Tasmania - cold winters, wet but soft springs and warm summers - the biggest advantage is the absence of plagues. This is also the reason that the hop farmers do not need to use any chemicals and why we, as brewers, have the purest hops that exists at our disposal. This is important because we make use of the Dry Hopping technique. At the end of the brewing process the aromatic hops are added, whereupon the beer absorbs its specific hoppy taste. Just before bottling we extract these bags of hops from the beer, so we can offer a clear, characteristic and high-quality beer."
"Ella is a very special hops variety with a very complex aroma. The hops itself has a very floral and herby aroma with a touch of tropical fruits. In the Leffe Royale Ella beer, you can discover hints of cassis, blackberry and passion fruit. A slightly spicy aroma that makes you think of humid earth, black tea and wood. In the background you will notice floral accents that remind you of rosewood, citrus and green- and resinous herbs."
Leffe Royale Ella is a seasonal variety in the Leffe Royale range and will only be temporarily (and within the limits of the stocks) available in retail and hospitality.