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Five minutes with Hop Baron

Five minutes with Hop Baron


With the Great Kiwi Beer Festival set to ignite our taste buds in Hagley Park (April 2), Victoria Tait catches up with Richard Moore from Hop Baron, one of Canterbury’s top craft beer companies. We find out the difference between IPAs and APAs, and who the Hop Baron really is.

What is the Great Kiwi Beer Festival (GKBF) all about for you?
When I get a minute away from our site it’s all about getting around as many vendors as I can, sampling new and unique beers and some old favourites. Beer and food go hand in hand, so it’s also a great chance to sample what some of the great food vendors have on offer.

You must have been to lots of festivals, do they all blend in together?
The GKBF, in particular, is a great event and every year it’s different, which keeps it interesting. The new beer varieties and brewers along with the crowd, music and layout all contribute to making the day unique. This year I am really looking forward to seeing John Toogood and the Jordan Luck Band.

Can you please explain the beer acronyms, for example IPA, APA and NZPA?
They are all variants of the Pale Ale, with the letter(s) in front giving you a clue as to what types of hops are used. Hops are used to add aroma and bitterness, but also have anti-microbial properties. In the 1700s, the British living in India were importing beer from England, and found that adding additional hops to their pale ale kept the beer fresh for the long haul. Hence the name was coined Indian Pale Ale (IPA). IPA is now one of the most popular beer styles, and the APA and NZPAs are IPA variants using only American or, in the case of the NZPA, New Zealand hops. At Hop Baron we make a Poolside Pale Ale that sometimes gets called a PPA – but the hops don’t have to come from a pool.

Can you give me a little bit of info on what Hop Baron is about?
For us it is all about choice. You would not eat the same sandwich every day, so why drink the same beer? Our vision is that each beer you drink is selected on its individual merits – not the size
of its advertising budget.

On your bottles, you have a symbol that looks like a Celtic knot, can you tell us about it?
Our knot is a 1600-year-old Frankish symbol and a fine example of rotational symmetry. Baron is one of the few Frankish words used today. Therefore, it is more than likely our knot has been used by many barons before us.

Are you the Hop Baron?
No, the Hop Baron is figurative. For us it is the innate feeling that helps us do the right thing. That means we do not take any shortcuts – we brew with patience and respect.