Monday, August 12, 2013

Wet-hopped IPA & Hop Harvest 2013, Part II - Drying, hopping, and the review

Last week I posted Part I of the write-up on the wet-hopped IPA slash hop harvest, which covered the first round of harvesting and brewing the IPA. This week, I'm going to talk about more hop harvesting and drying/storing the hops, as well as play catch up on the IPA.

After all was said and done after the brew day, I still had a little over half of the Cascade plant to harvest. Knowing I'd need more fresh hops for the beer once it was done fermenting, I held off on taking any more off the plant, especially as I was quickly losing sunlight. Three days after I had brewed, it was time to bag the first round of dried hops - in our climate (hot and dry) it only takes ~48 hours to dry hops to a state where they are considered shelf stable. Hops lose as much as 80% of their weight when dried, which is also why you need so many wet hops for a harvest ale. Note: I bag my hops in 1 ounce increments, as I've found that to be the best size for freezing while not being a huge bag (whole cones take up a lot more room than pellets).

After drying the hops, I ended up waiting almost two weeks before I was finally able to begin harvesting the remaining hops on the plant - or so I thought. In the span of a couple of weeks the Cascade plant had sent out additional side-shoots and was already producing a second round of hop burrs, the stage that precedes the cone flower. I'll need to harvest a third round of hops in early September, most likely. Anyway...  
I spent the good part of an hour picking cones from the plant, reserving 8 ounces for wet-hopping the fully fermented IPA. After shaking the leaves/bugs/dirt loose, I gave them a quick rinse in StarSan to make sure I didn't introduce any bacteria or wild yeast to the finished beer. After wet-hopping the IPA, I set the rest of the hops onto the drying screen, just as I had two weeks earlier.


Friday, August 2, 2013

In the Garden 2013: Photos

Not much to write today, enjoy some of the latest photos from the garden.
Some san marzano tomatoes.
Pinot gris grapes nearly ready for picking.
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion -the world's hottest pepper.

Hops Harvesting 101: Tips 'n Tricks

I've had a lot of people asking me recently about what how I go about growing/harvesting/storing hops, so I thought I'd make a post about my processes to help others out.

I've only been growing hops for two years, so I won't profess to be some sort of genius - at the end of the day, hops are still plants, and standard garden knowledge still applies. That being said...

Wet-hopped IPA & Hop Harvest 2013, Part I

Note: Because this post will cover a brew day and hop harvesting, I've decided to split it into two parts.

Last year I brewed the harvest ale from hell - this year, I wanted to learn from those mistakes and do it the right way. Ordinarily, you'd be seeing this post next month, but my second year hop plants have been going nuts this summer. So crazy, in fact, that I had hops ready to harvest in mid-July - compared to early August last year.

So two weeks ago, I sought out to make a beer with all the hop cones that were ripening on the bines.
 My intent last year with the harvest ale was a wet-hopped pale ale, with tons of fresh hops in the boil and post-fermentation. Timing didn't quite work out, however, as the grain I wanted to use - grown and malted right here in town - wasn't ready at the same time as my hops. In the end, I had to dry them, freeze them, and use them much later in the year. This year, I was able to brew another local beer, but with the abundance of hops, I stepped it up and made an IPA.