New Zealand Motueka™

New Zealand Motueka™ Hops are named after a prominent commercial agricultural growing region in New Zealand. Motueka is a relatively new variety, bred by crossing a selection from the New Zealand breeding program with a Saaz-type variety. With moderate alpha acid levels and relatively low cohumulone content, Motueka is purported to be an excellent all-purpose hop, providing a solid yet smooth bitterness from early kettle additions with notes of lime from later additions in the process. Motueka is now the second most popular New Zealand grown hop, just behind Nelson Sauvin.

This hop is a triploid variety from what was known as HortResearch (Now, the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research d/b/a Plant & Food Research).  It is bred from a selection of New Zealand breeding stock and Saazer. The result is that Motueka brings a winning combination of noble heritage with southern hemisphere fruit. Breeding triploid hop varieties aren't anything new for New Zealanders. It was this program that bred the first triploid hop plants back in the 1970s.

During selection and breeding trials, Motueka was first known by a number designation, 87.14-20. Then, while brewing trials were going on, a Belgian brewery took a real liking to the new hop and it gained the nickname Belgian Saaz. This was later shortened to B Saaz to avoid any confusion about the hop's point of origin. Later, a third change gave the hop its current name, Motueka.

Brewers embrace Motueka hops primarily for their aroma, but it can also easily be used as a dual-purpose hop. The mixture of Saaz character with distinct lemon-lime citrus, plus good oil content, makes for a unique signature when used throughout the kettle in hoppy lagers, Belgian ales, or wheat beers. Upon smelling, you will immediately notice sweet and resinous with zingy citrus and fresh herbal notes, reminiscent of basil and rosemary, with hints of dried orchard fruit around the edges. Motueka was initially bred for its dual-purpose application, balanced bitterness, and new world "noble" type aroma.

Unless you are a student of the Southern Hemisphere, you may not know much about the area of Motueka. It is found on the South Island of New Zealand, close to the mouth of the Motueka River on the western shore of Tasman Bay.  The surrounding district has several apples, pears, kiwifruit orchards, and areas for growing hops. This was once the base for growing tobacco in New Zealand. Several vineyards have also been developed. During the harvest months, Motueka is a busy town. The local pip fruit and hops growers employ seasonal labor, which swells the population. Other visitors use the town as a point for securing supplies for use during explorations of the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks. The town center and the Sunday Market showcases the region's arts and artisans, with boutique stores and craft stalls spread amongst small cafes, restaurants, and food carts, serving homegrown produce and local fare.

Motueka carries some of the same noble characteristics as its Saaz parent. In the nose, it has a bright and lively citrus quality of lemon and lime along with some tropical, floral, and stone fruit whispers. Often the tropical fruit comes through more prominently in the flavor, along with floral and spicy/herbal notes (often hinting at rosemary and basil). Its bittering is considered well-balanced, clean, and pleasant.  The weight of oil to alpha of Motueka integrates fully with higher gravity types to balance malt sweetness and body. It can be highly versatile in the brewery. Suggested options for pairing include: Citra, El Dorado, Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, Vic Secret, and Wai-iti hops.

Before you have dreams of filling your backyard trellis with this new wonder-hop, you need to know that the Motueka variety is proprietary.  There isn't any legal way for home hop gardeners to get whole plants or rhizomes. However, Motueka hops shouldn't be too difficult to find, though you may have to go online if your local store doesn't carry them. Like all imported hops, they will be easiest to find in pellet form (pellets travel better and last longer than the whole cone), but it may be possible to see them in whole cone form early in the season.

Here's something you may not have considered; New Zealand's seasons are reversed from ours in North America. Since this island is in the Southern Hemisphere, their summer is in December and January, while ours are July and August. So, if you haven't considered New Zealand hops before now, they may be great to use since it's readily available during times when other varieties aren't.

Motueka is probably most often utilized as an aroma hop. Still, its alpha acid gives it enough weight to be called into use as a dual-purpose variety and an excellent option for any single-hopped brew. To get the whole citrus and tropical fruit deluge, be sure to do some dry hopping. Its oil composition and alpha acid percentage make it an exciting balancing choice in higher gravity styles. Still, its mix of noble and new world lineages also allows it to bring something new to traditional pilsners and other lighter styles.

To help you better understand this hop's aroma and flavor, sample as many of these as you can find.  Beers that use only Motueka hops include:

21 | 04 from Brew By The Numbers

Motueka IPA by Arbor Ales

Motueka Single Hop Pale Ale by Hill Farmstead Brewery

To show how well it blends with other hops, I suggest these Motueka Hop Beers Blended, which are integrated with other hops:

Daphne by Cellarmaker Brewing

Hop Federation Pilsner by Hop Federation

Hoppy Bunny ABA by Duck Rabbit Brewing

Motueka Ma-uke by New England Brewing

NZ Pale Ale by Boundary Road Brewing

Yellow Donkey by Santorini Brewing

This research will deepen your understanding of how Motueka works in different beer styles and give you a better idea of how to utilize it in your own brewing.

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