Brewers around the world will soon be able to source bespoke New Zealand hop oils after NZ Hops announced a new partnership deal with UK-based Totally Natural Solutions (TNS).
TNS is a major producer of hops oils and while they use some New Zealand hops already the new deal will result in a greater range of Kiwi hops being converted to oils and packaged with NZ Hops branding.
The first part of the deal will see Nelson-based NZ Hops supply 10 tonnes of product that TNS will convert to hop extracts for sample packs. That volume represents just under 1 per cent of NZ Hops' 2020 harvest which netted 1230 tonnes.
The second phase will be more specific, with TNS creating a range of NZ Hops-branded oils.
"In what we're calling generation one of the packaging design, it's about getting sample packs to brewers across Europe, the US and parts of Asia," NZ Hops chief executive Craig Orr said.
"Generation two is a range of NZ Hops-branded packs, in 15ml, 100ml, 500ml and 1 litre bottles."
Each of those packs will carry the NZ Hops logo and the name of the hop variety.
Under the partnership, TNS will provide the process to create the oils as well as the sales platform. The hop oils will be available in New Zealand through Invita.
Orr said the partnership was about growing the NZ Hops brand globally.
"We're creating a lot more value downstream for our growers and increasing our brand penetration globally. The big prize here is American and European markets."
TNS uses a process called fractionation to separate hops into their key components, including bittering agents and flavoursome essential oils that give hoppy beers a distinctive aroma and flavour ranging from fruit elements such as passionfruit and citrus to spicy and floral notes.
By using oils, brewers can also make beers without the vegetal, astringent part of the hop leaf.
Hop oils also reduce waste as vegetative matter soaks up beer in the brewing process. Using oils instead of hop pellets also reduces oxygen in the beer, something brewers are keen to achieve as oxidation can reduce shelf life.
"The process of extraction of the precious oils sees less waste in the overall hop, and the final products extend our market offering and ultimately the consumer experience of our hops. It's a win-win," Orr said.
Brewers also use hop oil extracts to improve intensity and consistency in flavours as well as altering a beer's balance if need be.
Bruce Turner of Auckland's Urbanaut Brewing is a convert to hop oil and it's a key ingredient in one of their biggest selling beers, Montrose Hop Oil.
"Surprisingly this has been our best-selling beer in Australia so we've been rebrewing it for the last 14 months to keep up with demand. We'll continue using hop oil, the flavour addition is very punchy."
Orr said hop oils are also seen as a vital ingredient in low and no-alcohol beer as they can deliver the punch that's needed without the bitterness.