Tasmania's 2018 hops harvest is underway

HOPS: Van Dieman Brewing founder Will Tatchell says this year's hops crop is their biggest to date. Picture: Phillip Biggs.
HOPS: Van Dieman Brewing founder Will Tatchell says this year's hops crop is their biggest to date. Picture: Phillip Biggs.

A bit of tender loving care has resulted in a “bumper hops crop” for brewer Will Tatchell.

The founder of Van Dieman Brewing, Mr Tatchell is gearing up for the busiest time of year with the end of summer signaling the start of the hops harvest across Tasmania. 

Established in 2009, the independent brewery runs a modest operation on a family farm in Evandale. 

With about 300 hops crops spread over half an acre, Mr Tatchell said it was about “quality not quantity”, with this year promising to be their best harvest to date.

“We are really starting to reap the rewards of a lot of hard work,” he said. 

“This year is a real bumper crop, certainly the biggest we have seen here which is really exciting for us. 

“We really gave the crops a lot of love and attention in the springtime, which has resulted in what we have here today.”

Like most horticultural crops, Mr Tatchell said the secret to success was found in the flower’s size and the number per crop. 

On Sunday, Van Dieman Brewing will become a hive of activity as the team get to work on harvesting their product.  

Working a row at a time, Mr Tatchell said the tiresome process was worth the reward at the end. 

“Each vine is cut down the bottom and then we come through with the tractor and take off all the tops,” he said. 

“We then hang them over a frame and transport them up to the brewery, where we will have a team of eager hops pickers waiting.

“They take the tops off before we collate it all together in the cool room. It is really tiresome work because the only other use for hops that I am aware of is as a relaxant.

“It is meant to make you sleep and I know everyone who picks has a great sleep afterwards.

“Either that or it’s the drinking of the product.”

The harvest season will culminate at April’s Fresh Hop Beer Festival, with the brewing community coming together to showcase the freshest brews of the year.

Van Dieman are preparing two fresh ales for the event and Mr Tatchell said it was the perfect way to celebrate the end of the hops harvest. 

“It really is a celebration of the Tasmanian brewing community,” he said. 

“It’s also a nice reward after a lot of hard work.”