Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Last Wild Fresh Hop Brewday

I’ll be happy when the four different fresh hop beers we’ve made this year are all ready to drink, but I’m also already slightly nostalgic for the passing of one of my favorite seasonal moments during the year. Sure, I have fall to look forward to (and I do), and all of that delicious fresh hop beer to drink (and again, I do), but since we’re not living in a beer-rich area, and more specifically, not the Pacific Northwest, fresh hop offerings are themselves few and far between. As in non-existant. In fact, there’s a big enough gap that I’m officially declaring myself the Fresh Hop King of Ohio. You heard it here first: what we’re drinking is the 2012 Fresh Hop King of Ohio, and we’re awarding ourselves the first annual Ohio Fresh Hop 2012 Championship Belt. You want to take it away? Bring that fresh hop beer, son, and get ready for 2013, when maybe they’ll actually be some challengers. Knowing the history of any contest I run, I’ll not be holding my breath.

131. The Last Wild Fresh Hop
8 lbs. Rahr 2-row
1 lb. MFB Vienna
1lb. Breiss White Wheat

Mash @ 151° F for 70 minutes w/ 3 ½ gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 2 ¼ gallons @ 1.078
Batch sparge @ 166° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 ½ gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 ½ gallons @ 1.024

Collected 6 ¾ gallons, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: 1 ½ oz. Willamette leaf 7.8% AA

w/20 to go: 3 oz. wild wet hops

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish Moss

w/10 to go: 2 oz. wild wet hops

w/5 to go: 3 oz. wild wet hops

w/0 to go: 3 oz. wild wet hops

Chilled, racked onto Wyeast 1272 American Ale II pancake from 130. Cascade Fresh Hop

Brewed: 10/13/2012
Secondary: 11/14/2012 @ 1.008
Bottled: 11/29/2012 w/ 3.0 oz. table sugar; added 2 oz. Press concentrate to the last gallon

OG: 1.046
FG: 1.008

Tasting Notes: The one difference between this and the other fresh hops beers I made is that I used commercial hops for the 60 minute bittering addition, although I chose Willamette so that it would be gentle and not overpower the subtle wild hops flavors. As well, this beer actually pours a much lighter color than I could record in the picture; while hazy, it is closer to a dull gold than the almost
copper seen in the picture; it also has a mousse-y white head—I always like it when the wheat does its job. The main hop aroma in the nose is new-mown grass coupled with a touch of hay; there are lesser amounts of pear and apple fruitiness, both of which are delicate and subtle. The malt is only minimally present, which was intended—I do think this grain bill creates a light, pleasant body for the beer, although next time I might switch out the MFB Vienna for Dingemans Cara 20, or maybe try a ½ lb. of each. Flavors start with a gentle bread crust malt flavor and the apple and pear hop found in the nose. Grass hop flavor and bitterness comes in the middle, along with just a hint of restrained malt sweetness; the grassiness and bitterness continues into the finish, ending with a slightly stronger grassy note—let’s call it hay. The grassiness might be a bit much for some, specifically as it is the main hop flavor, but I find it enjoyable. The body is light, and the carbonation is bright and cleansing—it gives the finish an almost refreshing spritzy crisp to it that rounds the beer well. The light body and clean yeast profile allows the subtlety of the wild hops to come out in this beer. I’m already looking forward to making more of this next year. 

I forgot I put coffee in the last gallon until I was typing up the notes; I’ll try and pull a bottle of that one soon to drink and compare.

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