Whole flowers are picked, dried and pressed into bales after harvest, and represent the least processed form of hops available. They are generally only available from growers inside Australia or New Zealand because of quarantine restrictions to protect our hop industry from pests and diseases that are present in hop yards elsewhere.
Some brewers believe they can impart a smoother more balanced flavour to a beer, particularly noble hop varieties.
There are a number of famous varieties of hops available from NZ, including some that are better known for being grown in the UK or US. Because they are grown in a different environment, they can be slightly different in characteristics from the 'original', but are still fantastic hops in their own right. Many of the varieties we stock are available only from NZ and are completely unique in their characteristics, such as Nelson Sauvin, Pacific Jade, Riwaka (D-saaz) and Motueka (B saaz).
Hop flowers can be expected to retain slightly more wort than pellets do, but are also known for creating their own filtering bed from the whirlpool, resulting in very clear wort running off from the kettle.
Here at Beerbelly, we are huge fans of whole flower hops, using them for our own brews whenever possible. Whilst they aren't suitable for storage in the freezer, they can be kept fresh in the fridge in a ziplock style sandwich bag with most of the air squeezed out