This week sees the release of Mike Unsworth’s highly anticipated 11th anniversary vintage Cascade First Harvest Ale. The brew, often regarded as the jewel in Cascade’s crown, marks the first time the Mike has brewed the popular Ale.
Made using only the first hops and barley of the season, Cascade First Harvest is designed to showcase the freshest and best of the Tasmanian harvest. Indeed, it was the first beer produced in Australia to use freshly harvested ‘green’ hops in the brewing process and is still the only one of its type crafted in Tasmania.
The hops for the 2012 vintage were picked at Bushy Park Estate in the picturesque Derwent Valley on 14 March, and added to the kettle by hand back at the Cascade Brewery on the very same day. The labour intensive, time sensitive nature of the brew is what Cascade believes makes the beer truly unique – perhaps the reason it traditionally sells out before Winter even hits.
Made, as it is every year, with three new, experimental hops varieties and in a single batch, Unsworth has personally named the three new experimental hops. This year they have been christened Campania (bitterness), Triabunna (flavour) and Ellendale (aroma) after the historical hop growing areas in Tasmania from the 19th century. “Working with hops that haven’t been used in brewing before was a fun experience and we have again been able to craft a unique tasting full-flavoured beer,” he says. “Cascade First Harvest is truly a celebration of Tassie produce and is a highlight every year for us here at Cascade. I’m excited to have brewed my first vintage and to continue the tradition of giving our fans a beer that is so distinctive.”
According to cascade these new green hops “release unique floral aromas with characteristics of peeled fruits and blackberries over nettles, green leaves and ground spices”. While the finish delivers “a resinous bitterness which blends in with the malt base to give a well-balanced hoppy beer”. Unsworth describes his inaugural brew as living up to the history of the beer. “This year’s brew has again provided the characteristic dense foam, resulting in Cascade First Harvest’s signature thick, creamy head when poured,” he says.
The 2012 vintage also marks the first time Cascade First Harvest will be available on tap – unfortunately excluding NSW and SA. In addition, there are just 2,850 cases available for sale.