New Zealand Hops

New Zealand flag logo
three glasses of beer surrounded by hop cones

New Zealand hops, including Nelson Sauvin™, Motueka™, Riwaka™, and Rikau™, are known around the world for their unique flavors and aromas. They have been used in international prizewinning beers and are the cornerstone hop in many popular brands.

Because the hops are so unique, specific New Zealand beer styles have developed that either call for New Zealand hops or are based on the qualities that they impart. This trend led to the Brewers Association adding two official New Zealand beer styles to its list in 2021:

  • New Zealand-Style Pale Ale is described as having low bitterness and malt aroma with hop aroma “exhibiting attributes such as tropical fruit, passionfruit and/or stone fruit, cut grass, and diesel.” The final beer should be a “well-integrated easy drinking, refreshing pale ale with distinctive fruity hop aromas and flavors.”
  • The New Zealand-Style India Pale Ale is recognized as having high bitterness, low to medium malt attributes, and hop aromas and flavors that are “floral, fruity (tropical, stone fruit and other), sulfur/diesel-like, citrusy and grassy.”

History of New zealand Hops

John Fearless mascot representing New Zealand hops

Cultivars

The New Zealand hops breeding program focuses on developing aromatic hops evolving from traditional European noble hop cultivars. Today, there are 18 unique New Zealand hop varieties. Nelson Sauvin and Motueka are the most popular, making up 50% of the total New Zealand hop crop.

Read the story of one of our New Zealand hop growers, Eggers Hops. Their family has been cultivating hops in New Zealand’s Moutere Valley for more than 160 years, and they hops they grow are bloody amazing. 

New Zealand flag logo with hops

SOME OF THE MORE POPULAR NEW ZEALAND HOP CULTIVARS INCLUDE:

Nelson Sauvin™

Launched in 2000, Nelson Sauvin™ went from meh to mega-hit practically overnight as people fell in love with its interesting aroma, a white wine, gooseberry fruitiness similar to Sauvignon Blanc. It works well as both an aroma and a bittering hop.

Motueka™

Motueka™ has a distinctive, lively lime character, reminiscent of a Mojito. It’s frequently used in New Zealand Pilsners.

Riwaka™

High essential oils and high alpha acids plus grapefruit, citrus, and kumquat characteristics make Riwaka™ a perfect dual-use hop for IPAs and Pale Ales.

Rakau™

Rakau™ is a standout dual-purpose hop with excellent bittering qualities and the aroma of stone fruit, primarily apricot and fig.

Aroma/Flavor Aroma/Flavor

These New Zealand cultivars and more are available through John Fearless.

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