The original James Squire had to cleverly cultivate a vine of hops when coming up with Australia’s first brew.

According to the 210-year legend, which may or may not have grown since the emergence of the Malt Shovel Brewery brand, it took three summers for Squire to strike lupulin gold from his NSW fields.

The current brewer working under the Squire name had a significant amount of difficulty picking the next hop for the brewery’s latest incarnation.

Hop Thief enters its eighth release. And those expecting only a subtle shift from the No.7 will be surprised.

The key to the Hop Thief series is the changing hop bill. The previous edition was lifted by Mosaic and Galaxy. This time Cascade and Crystal take centre stage in the beer show.

So Hop Thief has gone from a brew that was noticeable for its piney nose and toffee edge.

Now No.8 has more citrus and is a little heavier in bitterness. It retains the 5.0 ABV standard.

It was the job of Malt Shovel’s Head Brewer Chris Sheehan to source the hops he thought would make the right change in Hop Thief.

His search ended in North-West US.

“The team and I have had a ball searching the world for our next signature hops, and this search took us to the Yakima Valley in Washington State, USA,” Sheehan said.

“The desert like conditions at the base of the Cascade Mountains coupled with abundant irrigation provided by the Yakima River, create an ideal environment to produce what many say are the world’s finest hops – and this is what we chose for Hop Thief 8.”

James Squire, that’s the company not the man – he left us a long time ago, will begin putting Hop Thief on the shelves next week.