Ramble On

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Brewing with Fresh Cascades - Chapter 2

When brewing with "leaf" hops I use poly muslin bags to minimize the
need to filter stray flowers in later stages of brewing.
They say home brewers are creative, and I guess that’s why I consider each batch of beer that I brew with the Cascade hops Bill grew in his backyard an experiment.  The theory is only confirmed by a conversation I had with Dan recently after he told me he planned to use some honey that his dad collected in Alaska and stored years ago in a brown ale.  That batch will be all grain – pretty advanced stuff – in addition to crafty…I’m looking forward to a sample.

Meanwhile, my investigations are moving in parallel, focused on perfecting a couple of different brews so that I can experiment with different hops to see what I get.  So far, I’m on my third batch of Black IPA – which I’ve named the Black Widow series:  

  1. Black Widow IPA #1 – this was brewed according to the Northern Brewer recipe, including Magnum, Chinook, and Centennial hops, then dry hopped with some of Bills Cascade from last year’s crop;
  2.  Black Widow IPA #2 – this was the first batch I brewed with the fresh hops we picked at Bill’s place in August (check out the links at the end of this post), which is dry hopped in secondary with packaged Cascades; and
  3. Here's the first pour of Black Widow IPA #2.
  4. Black Widow IPA #3 – this batch was a weekend project just brewed on Sunday, and currently in primary – the recipe is the same but the difference between batch 2 and batch 3 will be the storage time I had the fresh hops frozen, as I used the hops in batch 2 within three weeks of picking them and in batch 3 about two months afterwards.

Batch 2 has been in conditioned the bottle long enough that I tasted it over the weekend. These batches are fresh hop brews, which reminds me of the efforts by the Old Dominion Hops Co-op to establish a hops industry in Virginia.  Those guys recommend starting small, and since the harvest doesn’t yet have the scale to merit some post-harvest processing, the focus is on selling the fresh hops to local brewers who will use them right away in a seasonal brew.

These are the spent hops from Black Widow IPA #3.
Here’s a quote from an article earlier this year in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

"While brewers want to be supportive of the local product, quality and price are business considerations. Hops straight from the bines, or “wet hops,” must be used quickly — a good thing in capturing flavor and aroma for special brews. But for year-round beers, pellet hops purchased in bulk with analysis of acids and oils go a long way toward ensuring consistency and control costs."

I guess the Black Widow series is my own small-scale experiment with the concept. 

Here are links to those earlier posts about Bill’s hops.

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