Great Lakes Brewing News October/November 2015 : Page 1
NEW HOP FLAVORS G IVE B EER N EW L IFE By Matt Cole I ILLUSTRATION BY HANS GRANHEIM t’s early September and hop harvest is commencing in the Pacific Northwest. Brewers are boarding planes to the Yakima and Willamette Valleys to see what Mother Nature has delivered to them this year. The brewers buzz echoes about harvest yields, oil contents, and potential new varietals. The entire town smells of dank aromas during har-vest season. This is a brewer’s favorite time of the year. As hop selection starts, brewers eagerly await their turn to hand select hops for their upcoming brew year. This is where we get a firsthand look at the year’s bounty. We make sensatory evaluations that will ultimately have an impact on the outcome of your beer. Starting with the hop selection process, getting an early time slot with your hop sup-plier secures the cream of the crop. When you arrive at the selection location you’re led to a small room with nothing inside but a large hops evaluation table. The selection process involves taking brewers cuts of whole flower hops. These are small samples that represent larger bales of certain lots farms have grown for this year. The first step is visualization. Here is where to look for bright colors, good cone struc-ture, little to no browning of hops (potential mil-dew issues), low seed content (high seed content represents cross pollination from a rogue male) By Bob Paolino, Tina Weyeman, Karen Bujak, Jeff Sparrow, Steve Berthel, Bil Lusa o much of what we are seeing (and drinking) about hops tends toward "extreme," "double," and "Imperial" beers— the more IBUs (or mythical IBU levels that are calculated but not actually attainable) the better. Thoughtful craft beer drink-ers cringe at the trendy misuse of the style name India Pale Ale, or IPA, as an all-purpose synonym for "hoppy;" it is misapplied for marketing purposes to hoppy versions of other beer styles that are not actuallyIPAs. That's not to deny that there are some very drinkable Imperial IPAs out there, or that many decidedly un-pale hoppy dark/ See Flavors p. 4 INSIDE Event Calendar ............................. 2 Homebrew ...................................... 10 Beer Beacon ............................... 11 England’s Changing Scene ....... 17 Beers To Us! ............................... 25 Map/Directory.........................18-23 A Day in the Life of Mr.Brewer .. 38 State by State News Pennsylvania . 12 Ohio ............... 13 Michigan ........ 14 SW Michigan . 15 SE Michigan .. 16 Indiana .......... 24 Illinois ........... 26 Chicago ......... 27 Wisconsin ..... 28 N Wisconsin .. 29 Minnesota ...... 30 Ontario .......... 32 New York ....... 34 See Region p. 6
Give Beer New Life
It’s early September and hop harvest is commencing in the Pacific Northwest. Brewers are boarding planes to the Yakima and Willamette Valleys to see what Mother Nature has delivered to them this year. The brewers buzz echoes about harvest yields, oil contents, and potential new varietals. The entire town smells of dank aromas during harvest season. This is a brewer’s favorite time of the year.<br /> <br /> As hop selection starts, brewers eagerly await their turn to hand select hops for their upcoming brew year. This is where we get a firsthand look at the year’s bounty. We make sensatory evaluations that will ultimately have an impact on the outcome of your beer.<br /> <br /> Starting with the hop selection process, getting an early time slot with your hop supplier secures the cream of the crop. When you arrive at the selection location you’re led to a small room with nothing inside but a large hops evaluation table. The selection process involves taking brewers cuts of whole flower hops. These are small samples that represent larger bales of certain lots farms have grown for this year.<br /> <br /> The first step is visualization. Here is where to look for bright colors, good cone structure, little to no browning of hops (potential mildew issues), low seed content (high seed content represents cross pollination from a rogue male) and low friability. Here you start to get a better understanding of the stickiness of the hops.<br /> <br /> The second step is the rub and sniff test on every cut. Here is where your nose knows. Digging into the cuts, you crush the cones in your palms, releasing the aromatic qualities of the hop. The intensity of these aromas can be overwhelming while trying to analyze the desirable— and sometimes undesirable—quality of the hops. Diligently, you wash your hands between each brewers’ cut in order to avoid bringing the resinous oils of one cut over to the evaluation of another. Once each individual lot is evaluated, it’s back through what was selected, re-analyzing them all side by side. This allows you to narrow the selection further in order to achieve the desired characteristics of your beer.<br /> <br /> Grower’s Choice <br /> <br /> From here it is important to venture out to the farms to meet with the actual growers. The brewers come to learn the process from the growers, and growers are listening to the desires of the brewers to guarantee the best quality. This is where you see how different harvesting processes by different growers can affect the outcome of the same hop variety. For example, varying harvest times, kilning temps and kiln depths can all have an effect on the overall flavor a hop can bring. Hop farmers will often take brewers to the trial fields to discuss and sample new varietals. Experimental or trial hops are evaluated for breweries, and for certain beers. Some hops are so new they haven’t been named, and are identified by numbers. Brewers get excited about these and look forward to brewing with them. How a hop comes into full production can take over ten years and can start with over 40,000 plants grown from seed. Factors to consider for a new plant are maturation times, yields, disease resistance and desirable sensory characteristics. Is it good to brew with? The only way to fully understand the contribution of a hop is too brew with it. Here are a few newer varieties that have made the cut and are worthy of attention.<br /> <br /> The New Hops<br /> <br /> U. S. hops have diversified and pronounced aroma characteristics combined with a high oil content often described as citrus, floral, tropical, pine and herbal. Simcoe, Citra, Equinox and Mosaic have become the new breed of IPA hops. Tahoma, Yakima Gold, Cashmere, Triple Pearl, Medusa, Lemondrop, Jarrylo, and Azacco have lots of potential as newer varieties with various notes of melon, orange citrus, cedar, lemon and spice. Also creating a stir for its pungency and stickiness is Ron Mexico.<br /> <br /> New Zealand hops are well suited for New World styles for rounded fruity flavor, floral and citrus with good oils and balanced for multiple applications. Some examples are Motueka, Riwaka, Pacifica and the ever popular Nelson Sauvin. Nelson is truly a hop with a difference, which imparts a grape-like flavor to the beer. The flavor has been likened to that of Sauvignon Blanc, which is also grown in the region. The aroma qualities of this hop are quite unique.<br /> <br /> German “Huller” Hops like Mandarina Bavaria, Huell Melon, Hallertau Blanc and Polaris are the four Hull special flavor hop varietals. Most are bred from American Cascade and have great potential, imparting intense fruitiness, berries, peach and orange rind flavors.<br /> <br /> Australian hop varieties such as Ella, Enigma, Summer, Topaz, Vic Secret, Helga and Galaxy have been widely accepted. Galaxy has become the most recognized Australian hop. Highly versatile, with passion fruit and peach with clean citrus aromas, it is very similar to Citra.<br /> <br /> Our beers are only as good as the raw materials we put into them. As consumers demand unique and bold flavors it becomes our job as brewers to move with the times and drive these bold flavors into our beers. Thankfully, the generations of hop growers around the World are providing us with the tools to help give our beers character and soul. You wouldn’t have it any other way.<br /> <br /> Matt Cole is the Brewmaster and hop chief at the Fathead’s Breweries in Ohio and Oregon.<br />
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Around The Region
So much of what we are seeing (and drinking) about hops tends toward "extreme," "double," and "Imperial" beers— the more IBUs (or mythical IBU levels that are calculated but not actually attainable) the better. Thoughtful craft beer drinkers cringe at the trendy misuse of the style name India Pale Ale, or IPA, as an all-purpose synonym for "hoppy;" it is misapplied for marketing purposes to hoppy versions of other beer styles that are not actuallyIPAs. That's not to deny that there are some very drinkable Imperial IPAs out there, or that many decidedly un-pale hoppy dark/ dark/white beers aren't well made and enjoyable, but many craft beer enthusiasts who are looking for creativity over quantity when it comes to hops.<br /> <br /> Fortunately, creativity is in good supply throughout the Great Lakes region, with brewers using locally sourced hops for both year round beers, and increasingly, for harvest or wet hop (fresh-picked green hops) beers. Local hops, local flavor.<br /> <br /> Of course, the Pacific Northwest is the center of hop growing in the US, and that region is producing a growing selection of hops with flavors and aromas never imagined just a few years ago. Add to that new hop varieties from Europe and increasingly, New Zealand, and you have a brave new world of endlessly complex, diverse and creative beers to enjoy. New hops and local hops can be blended with a long list of more familiar ones, or they can be used exclusively in what are known as single hop beers, which are increasingly common, and always worth investigating. It’s hard to determine who is having for fun with hops, the brewers, or craft beer drinkers.<br /> <br /> For Example <br /> <br /> In Wisconsin, brewers have been making beers that showcase hops with a more subtle approach. The following are just a few examples from around the state.<br /> <br /> Single-hopped beers <br /> <br /> "We were doing it before it was cool," says Titletown Brewing Company brewmaster David Oldenburg, Speaking of his series of "One Hop Wonder" beers. Since early 2011, one of the rotating taps at Green Bay's first brewpub has been a series of single-hopped beers. At six or seven beers in the series per year, that adds up to a lot of experimentation, and showcasing the characteristics of different hop varieties.<br /> <br /> The One Hop Wonder (OHW) is a middle of the road pale ale, original gravity around 13 Plato and bitterness in the ballpark of 35 IBUs. The grain bill may vary somewhat among beers, but there is enough similarity between batches that the customer's attention is on the hop character of the different beers in the series. There's always something new for customers to try.<br /> <br /> The first OHW was made with Citra hops, a floral, citrusy hop bread in Yakima, Washington. At the time, it was a relatively new variety that Oldenburg wanted to try. He was pleased with the result and it was popular with customers, two things that encouraged him to repeat the exercise with other hop varieties, both new and long-established. Oldenburg says "there’s an educational value for us and for the customers" when the focus is on the characteristics of a particular hop.<br /> <br /> Finding What Works <br /> <br /> It might seem simple to brew essentially the same beer and just plug a different hop into the recipe. That was the approach Mikkeller took with its first series of single hopped beers. Each beer was brewed with the same amount of hops per batch regardless of alpha acid or oils for each variety, and that series resulted in IPAs ranging from 38 IBUs to (supposedly) 114 IBUs. For its second series, Mikkeller aimed for 100 IBUs for all of the beers. Oldenburg thinks recipe formulation is more complex than that, taking into account variations in oil content, early versus late hopping, the physical characteristics in the boil of the mass of hops when using Noble or other lower Alpha hops, and other factors. Oldenburg's recipes allow the drinker to experience the subtle qualities of the hops that don't necessarily come through in a palate-numbing high gravity/high bitterness beer.<br /> <br /> Oldenburg says that he hasn't considered every beer in the series to be a success, but part of his goal is to learn what works. For example, he found the Mosaic to be as complex on its own as the combination of the four hops he uses in his IPA. The very recent New Zealand hop, Pacific Jade, known for clean bittering and full citrus flavor, eventually made it into one of his IPA recipes.<br /> <br /> Some hops work very well in single hop beers, but not all hops are suitable. The high oil content of the German hop, Polaris, for example, proved to be a challenge to work with.<br /> <br /> In reflecting on the OHW "failures," Oldenburg says he wasn't personally, especially pleased with the Centennial OHW, but he said everyone else seemed to love it. When he used American Tettnang, he didn't think the beer was very interesting, yet it, too sold fairly well. When Oldenburg tried Ultra, billed as a substitute for Hallertau Mittelfruh, he just wanted to see what it was like; he decided that it was a good hop, but not a substitute for Hallertau.<br /> <br /> How do brewers decide what to brew with next? Oldenburg says many times he looks for "whatever's new and interesting" on the Lupulin Exchange. When he first did a Wisconsin-grown OHW, he got some samples from the Wisconsin hop exchange and picked what he thought would work best, deciding on Chinook, or WI-Nook, as he called it. Oldenburg plans to brew four single hopped beers a year.<br /> <br /> Fresh/wet hopping and local hops <br /> <br /> Wisconsin, along with Michigan, is one of the leaders in the Great Lakes region for craft brewers who use hops grown in-state (sometimes, but by no means exclusively) as "fresh hop" or "wet hop" additions to their beer. It would be difficult to catalogue all the examples of craft brewers using native-grown hops or making "wet-hop" beers, but here are a few.<br /> <br /> At Blue Heron Brewpub in Marshfield, it doesn't get much more local than the hop garden of the local homebrew club, the Marshfield Area Society of Homebrewers (MASH). It's just under three miles from the brewery, and every autumn the club comes in to brew a "wet-hopped" batch, with the hops going in just two or three hours after being picked. At Milwaukee Ale House, they just brewed a wet-hopped batch of their flagship Pull Chain Pale Ale using homegrown Cascades. At Milwaukee Brewing Company's production facility, the brewers are looking for new ways to dry hop to get more aroma and flavor from their hops, and they’re also experimenting with new varieties.<br /> <br /> Sprecher Brewery will be introducing a series of five fresh hopped beers this fall, and the first of the series is a pale lager brewed with Cascades grown near Wausau, WI. The other beers in the series will be the Citra Bomb Imperial IPA green-hopped with both west coast Citra and Simcoe, a Belgian pale ale with Simcoe and newer high alpha, high citrus Mosaic, then it's back to Citra and Simcoe in an American Pale Ale. Sprecher's Jeff Hamilton noted that the hops in these beers will be "cold processed" to preserve the "green" character of the fresh hops.<br /> <br /> Although four of the five beers in the series are not made with Wisconsin grown hops, Sprecher already has a track record for brewing all Wisconsin fresh-hopped beers. As one of the five member breweries (along with Lakefront, Central Waters, Bull Falls, and South Shore) of the Midwest Hops and Barley Cooperative, Sprecher first brewed a Wisconsin fresh-hopped beer six years ago. At that time, the co-op did not have hops processing capabilities, so wet-hopping was pretty much a necessity.<br /> <br /> Hamilton commented that fresh hop beers must be consumed fresh to appreciate fully how they are different, so Sprecher, like many brweries, made a deliberate decision not to bottle them, lest some people save bottles to lay down, and end up being disappointed when they try them three years later.<br /> <br /> Hopping Around <br /> <br /> In Illinois—each year, Clint Bautz at Lake Effect Brewing creates a new batch of 45th Ward Pale Ale, brewed with what can best be described as crowd-sourced hops. For the third year in a row, Bautz used hops grown and donated to his brewery by residents of the surrounding neighborhoods in Chicago. 45th Ward Pale Ale generally includes Cascade, Columbus, Centennial, Chinook, and Nugget hops grown in the 45th Ward, which includes parts of Old Irving Park, Independence Park, Portage Park, Jefferson Park, Gladstone Park and Forest Glen. "We never quite know what we're going to get," said Bautz. The hops are dried in the brewery using box fans to speed the effort, before being used in the beer. "This is a really special beer," Bautz said. "This is a really local beer."<br /> <br /> In Michigan—hop farming is a growth industry. As a state, Michigan is fourth in hop production, and first outside of the Pacific NW. Currently, Michigan brewers have a variety of hop farms and varietals to choose from, from the Northwest to Southeast Lower Peninsula.<br /> <br /> Stormcloud Brewing’s Brian Confer has been working with Michigan Hops for three years now. We joined him on a trip to Empire Hop Farms to pick up 30 pounds of fresh hops during the harvest to brew with that day. “I can have the same level of interaction here with a local grower that only really a big brewery can have with their grower in the Pacific Northwest,” said Confer, noting that when getting hops shipped across the country, a smaller micro or brewpub doesn’t always receive the best of the best.<br /> <br /> This is the third hop harvest for which Stormcloud has been open and the third year of Harvest Tripel, a fresh hopped Belgian style ale— Confer believes it may be the only fresh hopped tripel in the country. The beer was conceived when Confer was picking up hops from Empire Hops Farm, and they had an extra 30 pounds of fresh Cascades that had been packaged by mistake, so they offered them to Confer at half price. 30 pounds of hops aren’t enough for Confer to brew a pale ale….but it was just the right amount for a batch of tripel, and the beer was born. This year’s Harvest Tripel, on tap now at Stormcloud, features the Glacier hop. In addition to the tripel, Stormcloud brewed another beer showcasing local producers with Michigan sourced malt, hops, and yeast.<br /> <br /> At New Holland Brewing Company’s Pub On 8t St. in Holland, head Brewer Steve Berthel is well on his way to reaching his goal of 100% Michigan grown and processed ingredients for all his beers by 2016. He is currently working with two different Maltsters, Pilot Malting in Byron Center, MI and Michigan Malting in Shepard, MI, and has 12 different malt styles to choose from. Empire Hop Farms, Hopyards of Kent, Hop Alliance, Hophead Farms, and Top Hops all supply the majority of the 15 varieties of hops currently being used at the pub, including 3 varieties that are unique to Michigan: Empire, Vojvodina, and Osiris. Steve says that the hop character resulting from Michigans terroir lends itself nicely to his many styles of German and European lagers, English style ales, Belgian and Bocks.<br /> <br /> In Ohio—Matt Cole has long been a hops trail blazer at Fat Head’s Brewery. He makes some of the best hoppy beers in the US (as evidenced by winning the Brewing News National IPA Championships several times). Cole loves hops, he knows hops. He has been part of a hop selection team for U.S. wholesalers, along with members from such breweries as Green Flash, Bear Republic, Three Floyds, Elysian and Ithaca. This year, however, he visited the growers in Yakima Valley himself and has made his hop selections (alongside such heavy hitters as Founders and Sierra Nevada). Cole does a lot of research on hops, just to keep up. He says he has to “keep one step ahead of everyone else” if he wants his beers to stand out. Then there is the art of blending various hops to get the combination of aroma, oil, and flavors they desire.<br /> <br /> One new hop variety people are talking about and experimenting with has been nicknamed the Ron Mexico hop (properly called HBC 438) . It has higher alpha acids than many socalled “high alpha” varieties and total oil content eclipsing oil-heavy varieties like Citra, and may become the one hop to rule them all. Cole says it has a lot of unusual flavor and aroma characteristics— dill, rose hips, and coconut. One brewer described the aroma as a bit of orange soda and passion fruit with a dash of basil-herb and a minty aftertaste.<br /> <br /> Russian River has brewed an experimental one-hop beer for the National Homebrewer’s conference using HBD 483, but then, Vinnie Cilurzo is also a hop trail blazer.<br /> <br /> In Western New York State—hop cultivation is at last back in full swing after a more than century. But it feels like those sepia-tinted times never ended. Now in its fifth year, Saranac’s Hop Harvest at Wrobel Farms drew old and young alike to an old-fashioned, hoppickin’ hootenanny, celebrating the partnership between local agriculture and the beer-making business and giving us, the hoppily happy consumers, a chance to experience the hand-chafing but heartwarming labors of picking and sorting the heirloom hops unique to Wrobel Farms. Just imagine knowing that you, your kids, and grandkids spent an afternoon making new friends, enjoying BBQ, and helping to bring in the harvest that will soon be Fresh Hop IPA, the second in Saranac’s recently reintroduced, award-winning High Peaks line-up.<br /> <br /> And Homegrowers by the dozens dropped off their hops at Hopshire Farms and Brewery’s annual Hop Drop Day, getting $3 per pound in brewery credit plus a CoHOP pint glass to raise in triumph when this year’s coHOPeration Ale is released on September 26, as part of the NYS Farm Brewery Fest. Hardcore lupulophiles were fascinated by a demo of Rhizome Republic’s hop harvester that afternoon, while the somewhat less avid gazed skyward to marvel at the towering, Cone-laden bines.<br /> <br /> The Limits <br /> <br /> Some of the smaller brewers, without the access to large quantities of hops, are getting a little frustrated. Design a beer around a new hop, and then some large brewery corners the market on it and you have to start over. Jason McKibben, brewmaster at North High Brewing in Columbus, OH is one who is a little unhappy with the “arms race” as he called it. The newer varieties, he says, are expensive and often hard to get. While he uses Mosaic, Nelson Sauvin (New Zealand), Nugget and Simcoe in his North High Pale Ale, and his Extreme Double IPA features Azzaca hops, he also feels he has to “rediscover the classical hops as a hedge.” And while supplies of locally grown hops in all the Great Lakes states and Ontario are increasing dramatically each year, they are still in rather short supply.<br />
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