[photo credit: Todd Edwards – Instagram @toddy_boy]
In February I went to visit Trey and his partner Olivia from Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm in Karridale, not far from Margaret River. I had an excellent morning hearing their story, learning about their hop farm and basking in the glow of a vibrant hop field on the brink of harvest.
Seriously, it was amazing.
You can read the article I wrote about Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm for Crafty Pint here.
As the couple put the farms first harvest behind them, a harvest that was beyond their hopes and saw them work closely with The Beer Farm and Gage Roads, I asked Trey if he wanted to answer a few more questions. The answer was a resounding yes!
How different was the craft beer scene in Australia when you arrived from the US?
When we first arrived we really had to search around and struggled to find craft beer. Mostly expensive and from Europe and the States, we found assistance from The International Beer Shop in West Leederville! Thankfully within a year, Little Creatures began brewing pale ale and the Australian craft beer scene has never looked back! Its gone from virtually no small local micro brewed beers to the awesome state that we find ourselves in today!
What was your epiphany beer, the one that made you fall in love with craft beer?
I remember my first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, opened in my back yard by the pool when I was wagging class one afternoon in 1991! I drank half and left the other! This permanently impacted my taste buds! Beer epiphany… when I sampled my first collection of Anchor Steam Holiday Ale, 1991, ’92, ’93 and ’94, all when I was just learning to brew, these complex beasts changed beer for me!
You’re clearly passionate about beer, what made you decide to start a hop farm and not a brewery?
Hops are what set beer apart for me personally! Malt, yeast, both equally deserved, but hops are what take beer to perfect balance, and in some great examples way past the edge! I will always brew beer, hopefully well one day, but the chance to grow my favourite ingredient in a wonderful part of the world is a dream come true!
I would buy hop air fresheners if they existed!
We often hear in Australia that we are 10 years behind the US, do you think this is accurate?
No, not exactly. I think, in regards to beer I do think the US relaunched craft beer for the world, including the UK, Europe and Australia. That said, after the general “catch-up” in the area of more bitter beers, with a focus on hop bitterness and floral finishes, Australia has begun to take things down a true Australian path. In my opinion, no one’s behind anyone at this stage in brewing, just different paths! Possibly the use of local ingredients is a similar path that we are in short supply of, not in the desire to use and celebrate!
Hop shortage is a hot topic, as a new farm does this concern you and how do you see the future of the hop farming industry in Australia?
Hop shortage is an interesting topic and one that won’t be fixed anytime soon! Worldwide, we brew more beer, utilising greater amounts of hops than ever before. Hop growing has not kept up the pace, simply put. I don’t think farmers like myself will have a massive impact on hop shortage, but definitely help support the push for local boutique ingredients which I love.