You may not think of beer as an agricultural product – but it is. At least partially.
At its heart beer is four ingredients – water, malt, hops and yeast.
Those two ingredients in the middle – the malt and the hops – are grown in the ground.
That makes them agricultural and subject to the whims of mother nature.
If it’s a rough season for hop growers, then brewers end up with fewer hops – or fewer of some varieties.
But, unlike wine – which is allowed to taste different from one year to the next – we still expect the beer to taste the same. Even though the ingredients have changed.
Beer being an agricultural product is why some brewers celebrate harvest time. Well, as far as the hops go – people still don't pay a whole lot of attention to malt.
One of these is Victoria’s Red Hill, where they grow a small amount of hops on site.
Around March, they get beer geeks turning up to help harvest the hops (they get supplied with tea, coffee and beer for their troubles).
The hops then get thrown straight into the brew; which is different to most beers, where dried and pelletised hops are used.
Red Hill do this every year, releasing the resulting beer as Hop Harvest.
Usually, one expects a hop-forward strong pale ale or IPA to be a hop harvest beer, but Red Hill has gone a bit left-field and went with an ESB.
The hops definitely bring a bitterness to the palate, which is stronger than I’m used to in an ESB – it’s not bad, just different.
There’s also the expected biscuit and toffee-marmalade characters, alongside a smidge of spice that sneaks in at the end.
This beer doesn’t get a wide release so you might have a bit of trouble finding it.
Glen Humphries is the 2016 AIBA Australian Beer Writer of the Year and author of The Slab.