Fresh Wet Hops steeping in our Lauter Tun
That time in the year when we call our friend Darren Gamache in Yakima valley, and ask him what he's picking. Darren's family owns the patent on the Amarillo hop variety, one of my favorites and the featured hop in our Pale Ale. I've gotten to be good friends with him over the past eight years, and he has always set us up with some freshly picked hops at harvest time. Over the past few years we have used Amarillo twice and then last year we chose Sorachi Ace. This year we decided to try a variety we had never used before - Styrian Goldings - hey, that's what Hop Project is all about, right?
We got in 200 lbs of freshly picked hops on Wednesday. Hops decomposed really quickly after they are off the vine - the boxes were already starting to get hot when they were delivered only 12 hours after being picked. We spread them out in our cold room and got them cooled off quickly.
We decided to use a method we had developed at the old Marathon brewery, but had not tried yet on our new system. We boiled the wort for the standard 75 minutes, and then transferred the wort back into our lauter tun, adding half the wet fresh hops in the lauter tun. We let the wort steep with the wet hops for 30 minutes, then chilled the wort down on the way to the fermenter. We then transferred another mash into the lauter tun, which still held the wet hops from the previous batch ( a kind of mash-hopping of the second batch). We then boiled the second batch, and used the other half of the wet hops again in the lauter tun with the second batch.
Sounded good on paper, but the wet hops made the second batch a sticky mess. Thank you to Quinn, our head brewer, for sticking it out over a 12 hour day to make sure we finished the brew.
The wort smelled amazing during the brew. I can't wait to taste the finished beer in a few weeks. It will be labelled as Hop Project #58 in stores.