A few months back Wake & bake sat down with the head brewer and listened to his dream. It is now reality.
Broadsheet AU reports…
Young Henrys brewery in Sydney’s Newtown has teamed up with Byron Bay hemp clothing label Afends to make Hemp IPA. The two brands hope it highlights their commitment to sustainability and environmental projects.
Young Henrys cofounder Oscar McMahon says the idea was formed after a 2016 storm wiped out 40 per cent of Australia’s hop crop. (The plant part of hop is used as a stabilising agent in beer, and to add flavour and bitterness.)
“Hemp and hops are somewhat related and are both from the same family,” he says. “Hops is a quite fragile crop that only grows in very specific climates around the world. Hemp is a really hardy, sustainable crop and we started thinking that it’d be pretty cool to see if there was any crossover in flavour profile.”
For this beer, the Young Henrys Hemp IPA, the brewery has used water-soluble hemp-seed oil with a relatively new product known as “Hop Hash”, which is a byproduct of the hop-farming process.
“Some of the hop producers have created this Hop Hash by scraping the processing equipment,” says McMahon. “[It’s] sticky, resinous, very dank, very hoppy material.”
STAY IN THE KNOW
Get our pick of the best news, features and events delivered twice a week
Young Henrys experimented with a few different methods of adding hemp, and even tried feeding hemp protein to the brewing yeast, but settled on adding the oil at the end of fermentation, a method commonly employed with hops.
“We’re adding a zesty, herbaceous, water-soluble hemp oil into the raw fermented beer to create herb, spice and … grassy notes,” McMahon says.
Daniel Schultz of Halcyon Bioscience, the company that makes the oil, says it uses a proprietary method for rendering oils into a water-soluble product without chemicals or heat.
“What we’re doing is organic and 100 per cent natural, and we end up with hemp-seed oil that will just dissolve into water,” Schultz says. “To get it to dissolve usually involves all types of toxic solvents, emulsifiers, high heat, chemical preservatives. All of those things put your staff at risk [via] handling chemicals, and puts the consumer at risk by having to drink all these chemicals. You’re also compromising the flavour and nutritional value of the product.”
Hemp is much lower in tetrahydrocannabinol (the stuff that gets you high) than marijuana, and high in cannabidiol (CBD) (said to help with pain and anxiety). Australia currently keeps tight regulations on cannabidiol content in foods, unlike a growing number of places in Europe and the US where CBD derived from hemp or cannabis is appearing in beer, coffee and foods.
The rest of the beer is made in much the same way as any other IPA. It’s 5.5 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume) and uses four other hop varieties used in a more traditional method. While it complies with all Food Standards Australia and New Zealand regulations, it’s still caused some headaches along the way.
“Given the legalities around hemp, and using the term ‘hash’, and then combining it with alcohol and all the restrictions that come along with that, you quickly run into problems,” McMahon says. “The legalities around what you’re allowed to have when you’re using hemp is bordering on ridiculous.”
As a result the label, designed by SUDS, has “Fun Police” written on it and features a couple of cops pulling apart a peace sign.
McMahon is proud of the beer they’ve made. “We’re using a sustainable product, which is the hemp, and what used to be a waste product, the Hop Hash, so it’s kind of two fun, slightly related interesting products.”
Schultz, who has been involved in hemp and food-derived hemp products for a number of years says products like this will only increase awareness of the positives of hemp as a resource. With global acceptance of products high in CBD, he hopes Australia will catch up soon. For now, we’ll have to settle for a beer.