Category: centennial hops

Maris Otter + Centennial ESBA few weeks back, my brother Nate…

Maris Otter + Centennial ESB

A few weeks back, my brother Nate came over to brew some beer. I picked up ingredients for a pale ale with a sort of English bent. Maris Otter malt and Yakima Valley grown Centennial hops and Wyeast’s ESB strain.

I have a theory about homebrewing. People always start out trying to copy a beer they really like. They find a recipe with ten separate ingredients using three different timers. In the chaos something inevitably gets left out, a step is missed, something gets burnt, and the results are muddled at best. I’ve been there. So my last few recipes have been incredibly simple – one malt, one hop.

As I master the simple steps of mashing grains and boiling hops, I can start to experiment with dry hopping and inventive ingredients. This time around for instance, inspired by that best bitter I had on our trip to Virginia, I added honey at during bottling instead of the usual corn sugar. The results, while not spectacularly complex, taste pretty good.

I brought a whole gallon of the stuff to a family gathering, and the lot of it was gone in a few hours. Though, I may have drunk the majority. The finished beer was a little under carbonated, but that didn’t seem to matter. The malt flavor was nice, not sweet, but full. The honey flavor didn’t come out in the finished product, but I might try it again.

The hops were just bitter enough to balance. But I would like some more aroma in there. Next time I think I’ve try dry hopping. But dang, it was quaffable. 

Fresh Hop Round UpWe’ve been drinking fresh hop ales for about a…

Fresh Hop Round Up

We’ve been drinking fresh hop ales for about a month now, and we’ve come up with a helpful set of fresh hop principles.

Lesson one: don’t mess around with your fresh hops. 

Someone at Hopworks thought it was a good idea to dump a load of fresh Centennials into a yeastie saison. It’s all yeast, no hops. I don’t even like it as a Belgian yeast bomb. Level Beer – a new outfit located near the airport – made a similar mistake. They’re first can release is a fresh hopped version of their Ready Player One saison. It’s super light and pretty pleasant, but again, the yeast covers up any real hop flavor.

Lesson two: drink it fresh! 

One again, Double Mountain has bottled two different fresh hop beers. We got a bottle of Killer Red pretty soon after the release. It was pretty tangy and sweet. The Killer Green was a several days older. It was pretty plain. Killer Red was juicy with spruce tips and red currants. It had zip and zing. Killer Green was mostly pine and citrus, with a hint of fresh sparkle, but it was almost all gone.

Lesson three: try to be restrained. 

Fremont’s Filed to Ferment is pretty good. It’s got a fresh hop zing, but on the back end, it’s all vegetables – green bell pepper in particular. I can’t decide if that’s a function of excessive hop material or just an Amarillo hop flavor. I’m leaning toward the former. I can see how some would taste it as a flaw, but I still liked the beer.

Lesson four: sometimes a simple beer is a better beer.

My favorite fresh hop beers so far have been super simple. Fresh Prince from Gilgamesh Brewing is a basic IPA – no bells, no whistles – but I like it a lot. It’s got a real bitterness to it. The fresh Centennials add extra floral notes on top of a dry bodied beer. 8 Pound Pale from Full Sail does the same thing. Fresh hops add a little sparkle to a balanced pale ale – fresh grass and sharp citrus. Nothing complicated, just a shining nice beer.

If you’ve got some fresh juicy hops, let them shine. Don’t make a porter. I’m looking at you Hopworks and you’re Cascadian Dark Ale.

Fresh!It’s that time of year again. Back school shopping, one…

Fresh!

It’s that time of year again. Back school shopping, one last barbecue, and the return of fresh hops

The northwest had a very wet spring and a long dry summer, and the hops are ready a few weeks ahead of schedule. No matter, our friends at Ex Novo Brewing were ready. As the first cones left the field, they were firing up a batch of Eliot IPA. They tossed in the fresh, sticky Centennials and let them do their magic.

The result is a beer bursting with floral flavor and aroma. The smell is out of this world. It’s like burying your face in fresh cut flowers. The flavor fresh and green – like herbs right from the garden, like foraged fruits. The citrus flavor is subtle – there’s no mistaking it for orange juice. The whole thing just sparkles and shimmers as you drink it. It’s out of this world.

Get it while you can. Fresh hops can’t last long off the bine. A few hours and they get all soggy, so you can only get this flavor during harvest season.