You know your brewing culture is strong when you don’t live in the Yakima Valley and hop farms start springing up all around you.
That’s been the case for a while now in North Carolina, so I’m not making any heady projections here, but it’s nice to know you can head out into the country and find bursting hop trellises with owners eager to sell you a heavy sack of hours-old cones.
Our state isn’t an ideal hop climate. It’s hot, humid, and sunny, and we have a variety of creatures that’ll happily foul up a crop of hops. However, some varieties seem to do well, especially Cascade, that classic American bundle of grapefruit and rose.
That’s what we ended up with in this pale ale. Our friend Bryan mentioned that a local hop farm, Three Horse Hops, was harvesting its first batch of Cascade of the year. The harvest happened to come basically 1 day before our next planned brew day, so clearly we needed to add a fresh hop pale ale to the roster.
Three Horses is a gorgeous farm with a variety of tasty hops---from Chinook to Zeus to Nugget---so I’m eager for the season’s upcoming harvests.
This particular pale ale is a little different than what we usually brew. The grain bill is for the marzen we serve at our Oktoberfest party each fall. With the marzen being the brew day’s first priority, this pale would have to settle for a slightly breadier, nuttier grain bill than we like for most hop-forward beers. Clearly this is perfectly fine, though.
We used our entire allotment---1 pound---during late additions, so we’ll likely dry hop with dried leaves from the homebrew store unless we luck out and Three Horses has more to offer in 2-3 weeks.
And one final note about fresh hops. They retain a bunch of moisture. If you’re using them, plan for two things: (1) use roughly 4 times as many fresh cones as you would pelletized hops to get the same effect (ie, 1 oz. pellets = 4 oz. fresh cones), and (2) plan for those fresh hops to suck up a lot of wort. Calculate ahead so you won’t be stuck with 3.5 gallons of beer in the end.
I’m excited to taste this beer. Notes to come as soon as the beer’s ready.
Batch: 6 gallons
Grains: 12.8 lbs.
Water: 13 gallons
7.25 lbs. Pilsner
2.50 lbs. Vienna
1.20 lbs. Munich light
1.10 lbs. Caramunich
0.75 lbs. CaraPils
1.00 lbs. Three Horses Cascade (6.6% AA)
1.30 oz. Centennial pellets (9.9% AA)
1.00 oz. Cascade whole leaf (6.6% AA)*
13 gallons (2:1 RO water/Durham well water)
Wyeast 1056 (American Ale)
1 Whirlfloc tablet
0.5 tsp. yeast nutrient
Mash (60 minutes)
Mash out: 168°F
Boil (60 minutes)
30: 1.3 oz. Centennial
10: 4.0 oz. Cascade
05: 4.0 oz. Cascade
00: 8.0 oz. Cascade
Primary: 73°F (14 days)
Secondary: 73°F (5 days with 1.0 oz. whole leaf Cascade)
* Assuming we don’t end up with another sack of fresh hops, we’ll dry hop with dried Cascade leaves.
Synchronicity-ho. Three Horses had another Cascade harvest just a couple days before we were due to dry hop this pale ale, so we were able to snag another pound of fresh cones, half of which we'll add to secondary. Now I'm especially excited to see how this beer turns out.