Sunday, December 5, 2010

Home Grown

Part of our brewing philosophy is to try to incorporate as many locally grown and / or sourced ingredients into our beers as possible.  It’s something that I did as a home brewer and plan to continue to do at the brewery.  I began growing my own hops three years ago to experiment with using wet hops in my beers. 

Wet hops are hops that are used fresh shortly after being picked from the bines (as a side note, a bine is a climbing plant that differs from a vine, in short, in how it attaches itself to and climbs around its support).  Unlike the majority of hops grown, they do not undergo any drying or processing after they are harvested.  They are extremely perishable and will only last a few days. 

Wet hops add a distinct flavor and aroma to beer and wet hopped beers are unique because they can only be made following harvest.  Traditionally most breweries that make wet hop beers have arrangements with hop growers to ship the freshly picked hops straight to the brewery for use.  These days a small number of craft breweries are growing their own hops for these unique beers.    

Over the past three seasons I have added and changed some of the hop varieties in my yard based on growth patterns and personal preference.  This year I added Columbus which brought my total to two planters each of Cascade, Chinook, Nugget, and Columbus hop varieties.  In early September I harvested about ten pounds of these four varieties.    

Since my maximum batch size is only ten gallons and I didn’t want to dry any of them, I decided to shoe-horn all the hops into two different American-style IPA recipes.

This season's results on both the yields and the beers were our best yet and we're pretty excited to see what we can do next season on a larger scale.

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