Drake’s Does Hella Wet Hops and Harvest Aroma Coma

IMG_0242We’ve spent a good amount of time talking at you about hops: how they can vary on a yearly basis , how they are an agricultural product… 
 
None of these points seems more obvious than when harvest season rolls along and craft brewers round the country get a chance to once again do their annual round of harvest or “wet-hopped” beers. 
 
For the uninitiated (read: less nerdy about beer than we are), generally hops are put through a drying or kilning process prior to being using in brewing. This allows brewers to store the hops for longer periods of time, but also changes the character of the hops slightly for brewing removing some of the fresher grassy or plant-like notes and highlighting the aromas and flavors of the hop oils and the bittering qualities. 
 
Since “wet-hops” have such limits on the amount of time they can be stored, beers utilizing their interesting flavors only arrive at harvest time. 
 
WetHopsTravis2For our part, we teamed up with Hood Hops Ranch in Elk Grove, California, and growers Chris and Tom who are in their first year of harvesting his Cascade hops with plans to provide a local supply to hop-hungry California craft brewers. We bit first. 
 
Chris invited Head Brewer John Gillooly and QA Manager Mike Spady up to check out the fields in early August, and upon seeing and smelling the Cascades growing up there, the guys knew these would make for one helluva wet-hopped beer. They arranged to send our guy Ricky in the Drake’s truck to pick up a load for our “Hella Fresh Pale Ale” and also for our “Harvest Hopped Aroma Coma” (coming soon). 
 

WetHopsTravis1

How did we use them? Now that’s the key to making good wet-hopped beers… and a point that many craft brewers would dispute. For our part, we like to use these fresh hops to highlight an already hoppy style of beer that we brew by stuffing them… lots and lots of them… into the bright tank with a finished batch of beer and allow that beer to sit on them for a day or two to leach out new, fresh flavors prior to packaging. 
 
From our perspective, hot processes (mashing and boiling) do wrong by wet-hops, by pulling out overly cooked plant flavors and muting their strong fresh fruit qualities. So, instead we use our normal hops for those parts of the brew, and only use the wet-hops to accentuate beers like our 1500 (the base beer for “Hella Fresh”) and Aroma Coma (the base beer, duh, for “Harvest Aroma Coma”). 
 
Want to come try them out? Good news, my friends… Hella Fresh Pale Ale is currently on tap at Drake’s Barrel House with huge flavors and aromas of fresh melon, cucumber, and tropical fruits. Also, you can catch this beer out at a few of your favorite craft beer hubs throughout the state through the next month (releasing up north tomorrow with our rep Eben in Winters, CA at Main Street Cellars) and a later batch for Sierra Nevada’s Single, Fresh, Wet, and Wild festival on October 19th.
 
WetHopsFresh1
 
Furthermore, just because we could. We took our last batch of Aroma Coma for the year… and threw another load of fresh local Cascades in the bright tank. Look for this beer to be out on the taps very shortly (we’ll let you know on Facebook and Twitter when it happens) with it’s intensified citric flavors and aromas from the hops. 
This beer unfortunately not available at Upper Playground.

This beer unfortunately not available at Upper Playground.

 

Comments

  1. Robert Barton says:

    Greetings!
    I had the hella fresh pale ale this evening at Barrelhouse 101 in Ventura. Good stuff and very smooth. Can’t wait to go back and have it again. Any chance of it being bottled? Hopefully your experimental brews make it down this way. I look forward to them.

    P.S. My Drakes t-shirt came in today. Made the day even better! Thanks. Robert.