14 Sep The Challenge and Promise of Homebrewing a Fresh Hop Ale for Competition
Tis the season for fresh hop beers. If you have never tasted one of the last true seasonal beers, I recommend you start visiting your local breweries and try to find one while they last. If you see one, don’t procrastinate with a “Maybe I’ll try that next time.” Even if it is still available when you make your return trip, it won’t be as fresh as it was the first time you saw it.
As a homebrewer I have always wanted to brew with fresh wet hops, but I have never had the opportunity. Until now. You might have read my previous article detailing my trip to three hop farms in Indiana. If not, do it now. I’ll wait……. During that trip I secured about 3.5 pounds of wet hops: Cascades from Howe Farms and Indy High Bines, and Sorachi Ace from Conekeepers.
I was excited about the hops I got, as they are both hops well-known for their aroma and flavor. While Sorachi Ace is also loved for its bittering capabilities I prefer to not use it as a bittering hop because I think it brings an odd flavor to the party. It is also more of a niche hop, not used as often in American brews, but widely used in Japan. When used correctly it should give an intense lemon/citrus flavor that should pair very well with the floral/grapefruit citrus of the cascades.
My recipe for this brew was fairly clean with just a touch of malt sweetness to balance out the hops. I have used this malt bill with some success in the past when brewing my spruce tip pale ale, so I think it will work well for this application. I plan on using the wet hops in as many ways as possible by adding them to the mash and doing some First Wort hopping as well as dry hopping and keg hopping.
There are certain challenges that come with brewing a new beer, especially when using unfamiliar ingredients. For one, I needed quite a bit more water than I anticipated. I also was unsure of the Alpha Acids and oil concentrations in these hops, so I used the generic averages. The hop schedule I have should ensure a smooth, rounded bitterness which will make the perceived IBUs much lower than the actual number.
For my dry hop additions, I dried some of the hops using window screens and some box fans for a couple of days until they had lost most of their weight and were paper like. I’m excited to see how this one turn out.
Three Farmers IPA
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Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.5
Anticipated OG: 1.060
Anticipated SRM: 10
Anticipated IBU: 76
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes
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84% – 2-row
6% – Caramel 60L
6% – Aromatic
4% – Honey Malt
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6.00 oz. Wet Cascade (Howe Farms) @ 60 minutes in Mash
2.00 oz. Wet Sorachi Ace (Conekeepers Hop Yard) @ 60 minutes in Mash
2.50 oz. Wet Cascade (Howe Farms) @ 60 minute First Wort Hop
8.00 oz. Wet Sorachi Ace (Conekeepers Hop Yard) @ 15 minutes Boil
6.00 oz. Wet Cascade (Indy High Bines) @ 10 minutes Boil
6.00 oz. Wet Cascade (Indy High Bines) @ 5 minutes Boil
6.00 oz. Wet Sorachi Ace (Conekeepers Hop Yard) @ Flameout
4.00 oz. Wet Cascade (Howe Farms) @ Flameout
2.50 oz. Dried Hop Mix @ 7 day Dry Hop
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Safale US-05 – American Ale Yeast
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Standard Mash for 60 min @ 152°F.
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This brew will test the capabilities of your brewing equipment. Space becomes a big factor when dry hopping, as well as in the boil and in the mash tun. There is a lot of guesswork involved as well when it comes to how much hops to add. I erred on the side of caution, and my equipment limitations.
If you’d like to see how this one turned out, come by the Whitestown Brew Fest on September 17th where I will have it entered into the homebrew competition. See you there.