Hop Harvesting in Nelson, NZ


The Southern Hemisphere hops harvests are over and Australia, New Zealand and South Africa each produced roughly 800-1,000 metric tons of hops, which for New Zealand and South Africa was approximately 15-20% down on their plans. Drought deprived South Africa’s hop gardens of water in the final hop maturing phase in December, while New Zealand’s gardens experienced an unsettled season weather-wise.

Nelson-based growers co-operative New Zealand Hops (NZH), representing 18 members, said the season was influenced by La Niña which brought “an extremely wet spring and cool summer”, with prolonged periods of low pressure causing “cold westerly winds with strong gusts which damaged plantings in most areas”. These conditions led to “slow growth and breakages”. However, the summer’s end brought warmer, less windy conditions that helped limit final losses. The smaller harvest than hoped for has meant some varietals will not be available to meet the demand for them.

Despite this, in an exciting new development, John Fearless is able to offer craft brewers in the US – and beyond, such as in South America and South Africa – five New Zealand-grown hop varietals for use in brewing IPAs, pale ales, and Pilsner-style beers. They are: Doctor Rudi (dual purpose), Green Bullet (dual purpose), Orbit (a blend of experimental hops), Taiheke (dual purpose) and Southern Cross (dual purpose).

These hop varieties are either new, unique to New Zealand, or not widely used outside New Zealand – or all of those things – and are part of the New Zealand hop industry’s strategy to expand it’s offering to other regions in the world. Taiheke, the most widely grown of these five varieties, is a good example of New Zealand’s unique offer: this hop arrived in New Zealand from the US in the 1950s as Cascade, and due to the country’s unique terroir has altered in fruit forward taste characteristics to the extent that is now treated as a different variety altogether. So these hops are as interesting and impressive as Nelson Sauvin, the most well-known hop from New Zealand, they simply need more brewers to try them. John Fearless has gained access to supply and is receiving sample packs to hand out to brewers: get in contact you if you’d like to try them.


As well as US hops, John Fearless can now provide five innovative hop varietals from New Zealand. Get in touch if you’d like a sample. Also get in touch if you possess a spare foeder, demand for which is growing in the craft beer industry.