Friday, 3 September 2010

Hop Frenzy

Yes folks it's that wonderful time of year again, the hop harvest. Our fertile rocky third rock from the sun has completed an orbital circuit around our home star, & the photons that streamed from the sun hitting those most wonderful bines causing photosynthesis in our most beloved green matter across the planet, allowing growth of the female hop flower clusters we know as Humulus Lupulus or Hops have come to bear.

This year the interest in hops has literally exploded, new varieties popping up all over the world, green hopped beers growing in popularity & American hops gaining yet more fervor world over.  I have certainly gauged an excitement in the online world this year, frequent tweets from Eddie Gadd @gaedd about the hop harvest & their green hop beer with a staggering 45kg of fresh green hops going into the copper. Further north news of Thornbridge's 2010 Halcyon brew starts to trickle out, oh & as I type a new tweet from Sierra Nevada Brewery  'Our wet hops have just arrived. We start brewing our Northern Hemisphere Ale today' it seems green hopped beers really are coming to the fore this year.

I read a tweet from Paul Corbett at Charles Farams earlier stating the news from the Savinja Valley in Slovenia is good, yields are of good quality & certaintly looks like a beautiful part of the world in the pic below. Slovenian hops are much underrated & you will see greater volumes used in the UK in 2011.
Savinja Valley, Solvenia. Courtesy of Paul Corbett.
The excitement is palpable this year, and from experience in the brewing trade there are many brewers waiting with baited breath for news about the most sought after hops varieties like Nelson Sauvin, Chinook & the amazing new Citra variety pioneered by Sierra Nevada & whose stunning attributes were brought out so beautifully by Thornbridge in their limited special Larkspur.

I currently have a hop wish list as long as my arm & I will certainly be schmoozing the guys at Charles Farams for first dibs on some rarer varieties, as I have some exciting beers planned for the new year that will showcase some old favourites & some stunning new varieties that have slipped in under the radar.

All in all 2011 looks to be shaping up as a great year for new and unusual varieties gracing the UK's fine ales, what if any new varieties are you looking forward to trying in beers this coming year? I plan to get my mits on some Summit, Bravo, Apollo, Columbus, Citra, Chinook Warrior, Galaxy, Pacific Gem as well as all the usual favourites the list goes on... I also enjoyed employing the passion fruit/peach notes when dry hopping with Rakau from New Zealand this year so will be back for some more.

I  await those containers hitting UK shores bursting with Lupulin with a childlike excitement & all I want for Christmas is a few bales of Citra, please Mr Corbett be good ol' St. Nic for a day!


Mark said...

Hop harvest is a great time! I can't wait to get hold of a few favourites using new season hops.

Do you plan on a green hop brew?

Also, out of interest, is their an optimum age for dried hops? Do they peak at 1 month, 3, 6? It's something I've wondered for a while...

James, Brewer @ SWB said...

Mark, I would love to do a green hop brew, but due to all the projects we have on the boil (pardon the pun), what with Project 6, our new dry hopped bronze ale 'Gambit' and planning our up coming Black IPA series 'Nerotype' We just haven't got scope but it will certaintly be on the agenda for next year. As for the optimum age for dry hops, all our hops come vacuum sealed in foil and will last for 2yrs, maybe longer but usually are best within 12mths. When it comes to dry hopping a freshly opened bale less than a year old is best for an amazing aroma.

Leigh said...

Still not tried a beer hopped with Citra yet (as far as I am aware) - I've got a feeling it's going to be the next 'buzz' hop in the next 6 months