Hops is not a crop commonly found in the predominately potato farming community of Dean in Central Victoria. But hops are the preferred crop of craft beer lovers Alistair and Cass Tippett who are working toward supplying the ever growing small scale craft breweries with the essential ingredient of Australia’s favourite beverage – beer.
Asked why they chose hops, Alistair simply said, “I love craft beer”. Al grew up in a farming family growing potatoes, cattle and crops, which one would expect would lead him to continuing along those lines, however after spending years as an agronomist, he became familiar with the hop bine (the word is bine, not vine) and was captivated. With the encouragement of friends who were brewers, the idea soon developed into cultivating hops.
Victoria and Tasmania, with their diverse climates, are the primary regions for hop growing in Australia. The plant grows at a very rapid pace and they trail vertically over rather tall trellises. Keeping them in order can be time consuming, but this is a family affair and Al and Cass’ three delightful and lively kids, Chase, Allie and Andie love to help, albeit in a small way as they are only eight, six and four. Nothing like starting your children on a career path from an early age.
However, when it comes to the big tasks, especially harvesting, Al’s family, who live close by join in turning hard work into a fun time, more like family bonding than harvesting. With only one harvest per year there is some processing required to provide the right hop for the right brew throughout the year. The hops are presented as either wet, dry leaf and pelletised, each variety offering a different flavour to the beverage .
Al still works full time in his role as an agronomist, but this charming couple have managed to find the perfect work/life balance. Their home, sitting high on a hill with breathtaking views over valleys, pasture and bush provides a perfect setting to live and work. The very cute Jack Russell and friendly chooks round out this picture of idyllic family life.
Craft beer and small volume brewers, together with the home brewers offer a ready market for hop growers. If enthusiasm and knowledge of their product is any guarantee of success, Al, Cass and their family are well and truly on the right track. As Cass says, “We provide the absolute ‘Paddock to Pint’ experience.
For further details and “to add a little extra story to your brew”, visit achops.com.au or call Al direct on 0448 384 963.