Hunt For the Wilder Brew - a gutsy Wild Hop Pale Ale

Posted on Wednesday 30/03/2016

If you've got The Knack, well, it's only natural to put it to use. (Can't argue with instinct.)

That's why we wrangled The Knack of a couple of young, local Hop Hunters and their motley band of brewer, bushman and city boy to hunt out the wildest and most untamed of hops, hidden deep in the leafy grottos of the Waikanae River.

For only the wildest and gnarliest of hops are behooved to pair with a gutsy Pale Ale, brewed to celebrate Taika Waititi's Hunt For the Wilderpeople - a film portraying the bold, wild nature that (if you just scratch the surface) resides within us all!

We rallied our early morning, crack-of-dawn task force of Hop Hunters, led by local 14-year-old cobbers, Ari Hartmann (son of Tuatara Brewery Manager, CJ) and Max McNeil, to hunt and gather a stash of wild hops to go into our 5% Wild Pale Ale, Wilder Brew.

The troupe was joined by Davey Hughes (local bushman/personality, owner of Swazi Outdoor Clothing and Outdoors Consultant on the set of Hunt for the Wilderpeople), CJ and Richard (Tuatara Head Boy).

Under the cloak of darkness, and sworn to secrecy, the Hop Hunters made their way to a classified location to gather sackfuls of wild, fresh, sticky hops off the bine for Davey to ceremoniously pop into the fermenter back at the brewery.

But the mission was, in reality, a trek - originally kicking off last year when CJ heard a local rumour of wild hops growing around the banks of the Waikanae River, and obtained the services of Ari and Max to hunt them down.

“I’d heard talk about wild hops off the Waikanae golf course, so Ari and Max jumped into a raft and paddled all the way down stream and couldn’t find anything. Punctured the raft, came back wet.”

Not letting this deter them, Ari and Max continued hop hunting in their spare time. They finally found a patch down by the river… but on return with CJ, found the hops has disappeared due to some thoroughly diligent weed spraying by the District Council.

Still undeterred, and with the fervour of ones possessed with hop fever, further extensive searches by Ari and Max finally yielded, revealing a thicket with chartreuse-hued bines, laden with bobbing little hop heads, twisting and curling up amongst the scrub, which is where the hops for Wilder Brew were eventually foraged.

CJ’s theory on how the hops originally came to grow there was that they were planted by Waikanae early settlers, who brought the hops to the water source instead of lugging it back to their hops.

“It just makes sense. If you're going to make something and your biggest and heaviest ingredient is water, then you’d plonk your other ingredient right next to that primary source to save back-breaking backwards and forwarding,” he says.

He wagers the hops have been growing there for a long time because they’ve taken over the area, and they are an old variety.

“Maybe Sticklebract? It covers the flavour spectrum.

“The nature of the wild hops is that you don’t often get the same amount of those flavour-inducing alpha acids, but in saying that, this batch was dry-hopped with these wild hops, giving it a really nice, noticeably citrusy character with a little bit of feijoa in there too.”

Serving suggestion: wrap up in your wooliest, hardiest outdoor gear of choice, go bush, stoke a fire up underneath a crisp, star-filled sky with a cronie or two, boil up some pork and puha, then wrap your laughing gear around one of these.

Check out the video of our Hunt For the Wilder Brew!

Tuatara Wilder Brew is now available in most movie theatres screening Hunt For the Wilderpeople, and is available in retail outlets and bars from 6 April - click here to hunt it down. 

Tuatara Wilder Brew is available in the following outlets in either keg, 330ml bottles and 6 packs:Tuatara Wilder Brew is now available in most theatres screening Hunt For The Wilderpeople, and will be available in outlets and bars from 6 April.

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