Kinds of hops grown in New Zealand

Wednesday, January 18, 2023
While they are bloody everywhere, hops are not a native plant to New Zealand. 

They were originally brought over from the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America by settlers during the early 19th century. The settlers, mainly those of Southern English and German descent, introduced hops in order to brew beer on the new land. 

The hop varieties that were grown at that time were the 'traditional' kind namely Fuggle, Golding, and Spalt. These varieties were well-suited to the climate of New Zealand and quickly established themselves in the country's hop-growing regions. 

One hundred and 50-odd years later New Zealand is known for producing high-quality hops that are sought after by brewers around the world - but there's not much fuggle in sight.

kinds of hops grown in nz

Some of the most contemporarily grown hops in New Zealand include:
  • Nelson Sauvin - This hop is known for its unique white wine-like aroma, and is often used in saisons, Belgian-style ales, and other white wine-inspired beers.
  • Riwaka - Riwaka is a hop variety that is known for its intense and unique aroma, which can include notes of passion fruit and citrus. It's often used in IPAs and other hop-forward beers. [Note one of the best beers I ever brewed was a lager with Riwaka hops and used Golden Syrup for the sugar]
  • Pacific Jade - Pacific Jade is a hop variety with a clean, crisp, and distinctive aroma that can include notes of black pepper, lime, and other citrus. It's often used in lagers, pilsners, and other light-bodied beers.
  • Motueka - Motueka is a hop variety that is known for its intense and complex aroma, which can include notes of lime, tropical fruit, and other citrus. It's often used in IPAs, saisons, and other hop-forward beers.
  • Wakatu - Wakatu is a hop variety that is known for its unique and complex aroma, which can include notes of lime, passion fruit, and other tropical fruit. It's often used in IPAs, saisons, and other hop-forward beers.
These hops are generally known for their unique and intense aromas, and they are highly sought after by craft brewers around the world. They are known to be a perfect fit for the new world beer style and they can bring a unique and fruity flavor to the beer.

Pacific Jade is one of the more sought-after hops. 

Pacific Jade is a hop variety that was developed in New Zealand by the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research (previously known as HortResearch), which is a Crown Research Institute that conducts research on horticulture, food, and bio-protection. The hop variety was developed through a breeding program that aimed to create new hop varieties that were well-suited to the country's growing conditions and that had unique and desirable aroma profiles.

Pacific Jade was one of the hop varieties developed in the program and it was released in 2004. The hop is known for its clean, crisp, and distinctive aroma that can include notes of black pepper, lime, and other citrus. 

It is a 'dual purpose' hop that can be used for bittering and aroma, and it's often used in lagers, pilsners, and other light-bodied beers. Its alpha acid levels are moderate, usually around 12% making it a good choice for beers that need a moderate amount of bitterness.

Nowadays, Pacific Jade is widely used by craft breweries in New Zealand and around the world, and it is considered one of the best hops grown in New Zealand.

hops in nz

Here are some beer styles that Pacific Jade hops are particularly well-suited for:
  • Lagers - Pacific Jade's clean and crisp aroma profile makes it a great choice for lagers. Its relatively low alpha acid content means it will provide a moderate bittering, which is suitable for this style of beer.
  • Pilsners - Pacific Jade's delicate and refined aroma profile makes it a great choice for pilsners. The hop's notes of floral and herbal can complement the crisp and clean taste of the pilsner.
  • American-style Ales - Pacific Jade's unique aroma profile can bring a unique and fruity flavor to American-style ales, making it a good choice for pale ales and IPAs that want to add a distinct character to the beer.
  • Belgian-style Ales - Pacific Jade's complex aroma profile can provide a unique and fruity character to Belgian-style ales, making it a good choice for beers such as Saisons, Tripels and Dubbels.
  • Ciders - Pacific Jade's unique aroma profile can provide a unique and fruity flavor to Ciders. Its notes of black pepper and lime can complement the crisp and clean taste of the cider.

Where are hops grown in New Zealand?

The majority of the hops grown in New Zealand are grown in the Nelson region, which is considered the hop growing capital of the country. The region has a long history of hop cultivation, dating back to the 1800s, and today it's home to many of the country's leading hop growers and processors.

The Tasman region is another important hop growing area in New Zealand, with a number of small and medium-sized growers producing a wide variety of hop varieties. The region is known for its clean and green environment, which is ideal for growing high-quality hops.

The Waikato and Hawke's Bay regions are also becoming increasingly important in hop cultivation, as more growers and processors are starting to establish themselves in these regions.


It would perhaps be remiss of us to not discuss Steinlager, one of New Zealand's greatest ever brews. 

Does it use NZ hops? 

Probably not:

The hops used in the production of Steinlager are not specified by the brewery, Lion Nathan, but it is likely that they use traditional European hop varieties such as Saaz or Hallertau, which are known for their clean, crisp, and subtle aroma, and are often used in lagers and pilsners.

These hops are chosen for their subtle and delicate aroma profile, which complements the crisp, clean taste of lagers like Steinlager. They are also used for bittering which gives the beer a balanced flavor, and for their low alpha acid which means less bitter taste for the drinker.

As far as we are concerned, it's one of the greatest beers ever brewed!


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