It Just Doesn’t Get Any Fresher Than This: Our First-Ever Fresh Hop Beer

Rob Mullin
(view slideshow below) 

I wrote last month about the Grand Teton Brewing Company’s brewers’ visit to the hop farms of Parma, Idaho. As I mentioned then, one of the benefits of our new relationship with the growers has come to fruition. We’re very proud to announce the availability, in very limited quantity, of our first-ever fresh hop beer.

Three weeks ago, as the harvest was winding down, grower Nate Jackson loaded his pickup with fresh Idaho Zeus hop cones and drove through the cool of the night and the Craters of the Moon lava fields to meet Head Brewer Kevin Bolen when he opened the brewery at six a.m. to start brewing our Idaho Pale Ale.

The cones were only hours old, bright green and bursting with zesty, piney/citrus aroma. Fresh hop cones are extremely fragile, and must either be dried or used within hours of picking. That’s why fresh hop beers are special. Only breweries close to hop fields (or willing to pay for very expensive overnight transportation) can use fresh hops, and only during the hop harvest, usually late August to Early September. These beers are true harbingers of autumn, and remind us all of the close ties between brewers and growers.

Kevin brewed this version of Idaho Pale Ale with the same malt as the original, but substituted over 200 pounds of fresh Zeus cones in the kettle. There were so many cones that they took up half the volume of the kettle, greatly reducing our yield. Instead of the usual 50 or so kegs from a single batch, we’ll anticipate 30 half barrels (or their equivalent in sixth barrels) this time.

Idaho Pale Ale is a bold, flavorful American IPA, brewed to showcase the beauty of Idaho water, malt and hops, and to prove that Idaho brewers can stand toe-to-toe with the boldest California brewers. We’ve calculated this fresh hop version to have over 200 International Bitterness Units (IBUs), making it one of the hoppiest beers brewed anywhere. In addition to the bittering and flavor hops added to the kettle, more fresh cones were introduced in two additions after fermentation. This “dry-hopping” accentuates the aroma of the hops.

This very special brew will be on tap at the brewery and at the best craft beer bars throughout Grand Teton Brewing Company’s territory, but only for an extremely limited time. It is sure to please “hopheads” everywhere, and will be followed by different “single-hop” versions throughout the year. Stay tuned for future announcements.

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