A brewer has created a new beer using Scottish-grown hops.
Robert Lindsay, founder of Six Degrees North craft brewery in Laurencekirk decided to take on the challenge, despite knowing the crop is difficult to grow in the north of the UK.
The perennial plants are usually cultivated in warm temperate regions and remain a rare crop in Scotland. Craft brewers in the colder regions north of the border all use hops which are imported.
Robert’s new drink Hop Harvest 2019, which has just been launched to the public, uses an unusual method with wet hops which gives the beer a lemon/lime and pepper taste.
The house yeast gives a distinctly Belgian background, which Six Degrees North is known for.
Mr Lindsay, 49, said: “The hops are taken from the vine then picked and used within 24 hours, which is not the way in which hops are used. They are usually dried then stored and used throughout the year.
“So it gives a very, sort of, unpredictable result if you like.”
Scottish-grown hops were first trialled by the James Hutton Institute in Dundee. A few years before that, Mr Lindsay attended the institute with a family friend – a farmer in the north-east.
He said: “We’ve got good long-term connections through family and friendship.
“They were looking to explore different crop types and had suggested hops as something they would like to look at and if we would be interested on taking what they’re producing initially as a trial.”
The pair soon partnered up and settled on dwarf pioneer hops, known for their easier management.
“They grow about 5ft shorter than the standard hops and we’ve been growing them in poly tunnels to protect them from wind and weather, to give them a good warm start,” said Mr Lindsay.
The process has not been easy, but Mr Lindsay said he believes it will be popular due to its local connections.
“The hops in the first year produce very little crop and then they mature in the second and third year to produce a lot more.
“So there’s been a fairly large learning curve during the first year.”
He added: “We’ve made about 14-15 hectolitres of the beer so 1,500 litres and we anticipate we will be able to sell that out in the next week or two.”
The beer is available at Six Degrees North’s bar on Littlejohn Street, Fountainhall Wines in Aberdeen and at Westhill Service Station in Elrick.