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Fresh Hop IPA, Part 2

Following up Kenny's, Fresh Hop IPA, part one post from Tuesday is going to be a challenge, but I think this is Juicebox's time to shine.  So let's get right after it.

Let me introduce Fresh Hop IPA, Part 2-

It was a Sunday Morning, I was sleepy and hungry but alas, duty called.  I had been calling over to the Brewhouse all morning trying to get an ETA for the hops arrival and I was finally told (after much pestering) that the first brew had been mashed in at 10am and the hop truck was south of Laramie, Wy (which, by all mapping standards, is pretty close).  I grabbed the camera and cruised over to the brewery.  The plan was that a few of us would be needed and needing to show up at the designated hour to unload the reefer truck and hand carry the bags and boxes of fresh hops up to the hatch on the lauter tun, which would be used for hopbacking purposes.  When I looked at that truck full of hops my back started hurting and my hands got really chapped (I am, some how, allergic to actual labor) but with the help of some trusty co-workers we started carrying stuff and I felt instantly better, as a box of fresh hops looks heavy, but in reality, it's not that bad.

The fresh hop bill went like this, a whole bunch of wet Amarillo, then a mess of wet Centennials, and finally a large helping of wet Cascades.  As we carried we had to make sure that the boxes that were being pulled off the truck were, in fact, the right boxes.  We had enough fresh hops for four brews, but we wanted to leave the hops for the later brews in the cooling air of the reefer truck, so planning as we were lifting was required.  But no big deal, Alex (the maiden of fresh hop logistics) was on hand, she directed and we carried.  Upon getting all the boxes up to the top of the lauter it was only a few minutes before the dumping had to commence.  The 6 of us lending a hand started to goof off (as expected) and we decided to fresh hop a few Blue Paddles to sip on as we were waiting.  Now Blue Paddle is one of my favorites.  It's a pilsener with the nice refreshing bite of hops, not to much, just a subtle bitterness.  Someone thought it a grand idea (it may have been me) to unload a couple wet hops from the boxes and toss them into a globe glass of Paddle.  Now I understand that no heat was going to be applied for alpha-acid extraction and the time frame of stuffing a couple hop cones into a beer and then drinking said beer would not be enough time impart much hoppiness in a cold environment either, but I figured it would at least make a good picture and then we could drink the beer (a win-win in my book).  And look, the picture came out pretty cool and almost everyone finished their hop-floating Blue Paddle during our goof off time. 

As we were tipping back the final sips of our first beer break we got the charge. Someone yelled "pour them hops into that hatch" and everyone jumped into action.  Bag after bag, box after box of fresh, 18 hour old Yakima-born wet hops were poured right into our Colorado-located lauter tun.  Again, as Kenny described in part one, the brew would be mashed in, lautered, boiled and then sent back to the lauter tun where a bed of fresh hops would be waiting for the hot and steamy wort.  We were pouring these hop flowers in the lauter tun just as the boil was just finishing.  It was only going to take 10 or 15 minutes to soak in that hoppy flavor in the lauter (turned hopback) so our window (as with the rest of this project) was pretty small.  We were dumping as fast as we could to build that beautiful (and comfortable looking) bed of fresh hop flowers.  The lauter tun has a big rake in it that is normally used to keep the grain bed level during right when the rake got firingits normal duties, but during the fresh hopping segment of the brew the rake was employed to level out the hops and it worked great. The rake was spinning and the final couple of boxes were poured in and we locked the hatch.  Soon after the hatch was closed and lock the freshly boiled wort came flooding in.  It was a sight to see, all steamy and green and awesome.  It was also really funny to step back and watch six grown adults all fighting over the view into a very small window, it was like a bunch of kids at Disney World shoving at each other to get a better look through the glassy bottomed boat.  It really was beer making at its finest and I was happy to be there. 

As soon as the hop soak was done and the wort left the lauter it headed for the chiller before going straight into the cellar for the yeast pitch and brew one was done.  We all high-fived.  As the high fives were going off the unmistakable sound of barley filling the wet mill filled our ears.  That sound meant the next brew was starting and it was only a few more bits until the next load of boxes needed to come upstairs for the fresh hop dumping and the reality hit... we were going to be doing this all day.

The time frame dubbed "several weeks later" is now upon us and Fresh Hop IPA is on tap towers and store shelves in markets abound, but what does this beer taste like.  Well it is an IPA, and a bold one at that.  The nose is full of orange peel and a fresh, woods-i-ness that can only come from American hops.  It has strong, sharp bitterness in flavor and a bold, enjoyable bite on the tongue.  This is a great beer, and  very drinkable at 70 IBU's. Fresh Hop IPA is strongish at 7% ABV and has that wonderful greenness of a good fresh hopped beer.

Overall the process to make a fresh hop beer on a big scale in Colorado is difficult, but not impossible.  Inspiration, hard work and the love of hoppy beers were all driving forces to bring this beer to you.  Was it worth it?  Drink some, and you tell me...

-JUICEBOX and KENNY