CUPITT CRAFT BREWERS TO MAKE FRESH HOP BEER13 February 2018 – posted in: Event News, Craft Ales

Cupitt Craft Brewers is very excited to announce that we will be brewing a series of fresh hop / hop havest beers commencing this year. The annual hop harvest is as special a time for brewers as the grape harvest is for vintners, and reinforces our connection with the raw materials we use.

We thought we might provide a little clarity around the difference between fresh hops and dried hops to give you some context as to why our Harvest Ale will be pretty special.

Hops, like grapes, are only harvested once a year, around the end of Summer depending on the variety and growing conditions.  The most important part of the hop cone for the brewer is what is known as the lupulin, which can be found in sticky yellow deposits at the base of all the leaves. It is the lupulin which contributes the bitter acids, as well as the distinctive flavour and aromas found.

The overwhelming majority of hops are dried and pelletised, and this is what most brewers use, day to day, throughout the year, as the hops have quite good storage potential in pellet form.  More traditional, but less common, is for a brewer to use the dried hop cone.

Fresh hop beers are brewed with hop cones as soon as possible after harvesting. The hop cones are not dried, which is why these beers are also known as wet hop beers.

Meanwhile, a beer that is dry hopped isn’t talking about dried hops. Dry hopping (as a verb) is a step in the brewing process where brewers add hops into the fermenter to give beer a hoppy flavour and aroma, without contributing bitterness.

Fresh hop beers are rarely dry hopped. Instead, the fresh hops are added at the end of the boil, to keep bitterness contribution low and to retain as much flavour and aroma as possible. They are often more grassy than ‘regular’ beers as the freshly harvested hops have a little more leafy matter than pelletised hops. Because of these aspects of brewing a fresh hop beer, one should never expect the kind of hoppy beer as is common these days, such as our IPA, but instead a beer with a subtle, and unique, hop flavour.

Ryefield hop harvest

On the 12th of February brewers Liam and Wally headed down to the Ryefield Hops farm, in Bemboka, about 200km south of Ulladulla. There they helped harvest some Cascade and Chinook hops. A key part of the selection process is exposing the lupulin glands and rubbing them between the fingers to smell the quality of the hop aromatics. Having selected which hops to harvest, the bines were cut down, and the hops removed from the bine by hand.

Fresh hops are best used as quickly as possible after harvesting, and the morning after harvesting we brewed up an American Amber Ale which saw all the hops, both Cascade and Chinook, thrown in at the end of the boil.

Cupitt’s Craft Brewers first Fresh Hop Beer our Harvest Ale should be available in late March. Make sure you take the opportunity to drink our fresh hop beer when it comes available on tap as the opportunity presents itself only once a year! (And keep an eye out for a couple of other fresh hop beers we are doing with different growers)

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