Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

November 14, 2011

Beer Diary:

Wet And Wild

The results of Eddie’s very first wet hopped ale.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
A few weeks ago I brewed up a wet hopped beer. For those of you too lazy to click the link, I’ll sum up: some acquaintances had a few hop vines (of unknown lineage) growing in their backyard, and let me pick a few pounds (and get sunburned in the process), which I immediately used in a batch of home brew. So I thought I’d let the world know how it turned out, whether anyone gave rat’s ass or not.

Like seemingly all my home brews, this one was a bit over-carbonated. Not hide-behind-the-Plexiglas-shield-while-opening over-carbonated, just open-over-the-sink over-carbonated.

(Funny anecdote, although not all that hilarious at the time: I had some over-carbonated, WAY over-hopped home brew sitting in the cellar for too damn long, so I decided to dump the six or so bottles. I opened the first bottle over the sink. BOOM! Like a gun went off. One instant I was standing there, perfectly dry, the next I am fucking drenched. I blow beer out of my nose and look down at the bottle, still in my hand. It’s intact, but completely empty. I’m thinking, there’s no way that entire bottle of beer is soaked into my shirt. I hear a wet plop behind me, and look up. There’s a puddle of beer and foam on the fucking ceiling. Ma was PISSED. I never in my life had to mop the ceiling until I started home brewing.)

When I first sampled it out of the hydrometer test tube it was WAY bitter, but after bottle conditioning, the carbonation (or over-carbonation, as the case may be) helped reign that in. And after a couple of weeks sitting in the beer fridge the bitterness really tailed off, so much so that, while still on the bitter side for a pale ale, it was pleasantly drinkable.

I still have no idea what kind of hops I used. I’m fairly certain they weren’t my first guess when picking them, Cascade. Although quite citrusy, they were less grapefruit-like and more of a tangerine or orange aroma. Plus, they had a strong peppery note to both the nose and the taste, almost like a spicy Belgian beer in their intensity. The finish was sharp and earthy bitterness. And all that had to come from the hops, since I was using about as bland a malt (American two row pale ale) and about as neutral an ale yeast (Wyeast 1056 American Ale) as you can get. And my fermentation temperature was no higher than 72°. Maybe I stumbled upon some terroir variant of hops! Or, much more likely, I’m just a dumbass when it comes to identifying the smells and tastes of even common hop varieties.

The stats: 1.050 original gravity, 1.010 terminal gravity, 5.24 percent ABV. It sat in the fermenter for just over a month.

So, some things I learned while brewing my first wet hopped beer:

  1. Always open your home brew over the sink. Well, always open my home brew over the sink.
  2. Watch the hopping rate. Even though “they” say the bitterness from fresh hops isn’t as intense as from pellets, it doesn’t give you a license to go nuts, like I did. Luckily, there’s point three, below.
  3. Time really does a number on hop bitterness, the moreso, it seems, on a fresh-hopped brew. What’s that old saying about home brew? Something like, “your home brew is truly ready the day after you drink the last bottle.”

This was fun. (And, more importantly, no beer on the ceiling!) The beer came out reasonably well, and I’m looking forward to taking another shot at a wet hopped ale next year.

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

Want to know how healthy the craft beer industry is? As always, look to Portland. Craft pioneer Bridgeport announces sudden closure, adding to a growing list of PDX casualties.
Did Anheuser-Busch Chicago offer their shit beer to Cody Parkey before his missed field goal? Because that may explain why he "accidentally" biffed it.
Chicago now has the most breweries of any city in the country. Other things Chicago has the most of: murders, mobsters, and Ditkas.
Trying to spin it positive, BA releases end of year graphic. Only 5% growth in the craft sector when nearly 1000 new breweries opened? That's a collapse waiting to happen.
R.I.P. Tallgrass... another casualty as the regional/national craft beer market continues to get squeezed.
Wait... Constellation Brands cut all of the Ballast Point and Funky Buddha sales staff? They merged it with their Corona/Modelo staff?? We're SHOCKED!!!
Pizza Beer founder crying about failure of company, blames everyone else. Reminder, the beer tasted like vomit. Try having better ideas or making better products so you're not a failure.
It's Bud Light so doesn't really matter, but we expect this beer to be sitting around for awhile.
Indiana brewery to open with controversial beer names to "get the conversation going". Translation: taking advantage of serious issues for free publicity.
Hundreds of amazing beers in Wisconsin and the Cubs took back the one everyone drinks just because it exists and people have heard of it. How fitting...