Sunday, September 12, 2010
Well, several months after planting hop rhizomes in my backyard, I've just finished my first batch of wet hop IPA using a full pound of fresh Centennial hops.
Now if only I can get my own hop plants to produce some cones I'll be in business.
I bought the fresh hops online from Rebel Brewer. They had a nice selection and decent prices. However, they left my can of Super Moss out of my order, but they promised to fix the problem on Monday. Despite that, it was nice to come home to find all of my brewing ingredients waiting for me on the porch.
Ideally, I would've waited until this morning to brew, but with fresh hops, time is everything. They deteriorate quickly, so you have to use them as soon as possible. So despite having moved my buddy Tim in the morning and then spending four hours in a bar watching South Florida give a game away to Florida, I had to come home and brew beer. Not the worst thing, it just made for a long day.
Practically speaking, brewing with fresh hops isn't any different than brewing with pellets or dried hops. The only thing is, you can't dry hop beer using fresh hops. Because the fresh hops are straight from the field they're covered in bacteria. A few minutes in boiling wort and your bacteria problems go away, but that means fresh hops should only be used for flavor (If you grow your own hops and have a whack of them, you could use them for bittering, too. But if you're paying $15 a pound, make the most of the fresh hops and use them for flavor.).
To accentuate the Centennial hops, which have many of the same citrus flavors Cascade hops have, I used them throughout the beer. I used two ounces of Centennial pellets for bittering, a pound of fresh hops for flavor and I have five ounces of dried Centennial hops that I'll dry hop with next week.
For malt, I used eight pounds of pale and one pound of light crystal. Again, this is to help accentuate the flavor of the hops. That said, the sweet crystal malt gave the wort a nice caramel flavor and a beautiful orange color.
Once I got the wort down to 69 degrees, I pitched my London Ale III Yeast from Wyeast. It's a good yeast for hoppy beers and it has high flocculation, which should help clarify the beer (important since the Super Moss didn't show up). My original gravity came out at 1.070.
Looking at the calendar, this batch of beer should be ready to drink by Oct. 31. Happy Halloween, indeed.
As for my own hop plants, the Cascade continues to thrive, but the Willamette and Centennial vines are coming on, and none of the hops have produced cones yet. Clearly, this year is a wash, but that's typical for first-year hop plants.
And on a completely unrelated note, check out my shrimp and grits, and foie gras recipes on CraftBeer.com.