This past Monday (8-29-11) we conducted the first hop "harvest" in downtown Denver in a long, long time.
For the fresh hops we used in the first 20-bbl. batch of Belgorado (our wet-hopped, all-Colorado ingredients, Belgian-style pale ale) we trucked in (okay, vanned in) 50 heavy-with-hops vines from Colorado's own Misty Mountain Hops.
After draping the vines over the railing of the Wynkoop Brewing Co. patio, our staff hand picked the hops from the vines. It made for a very novel way to get ultra-fresh hops into a batch of beer. The aroma on the patio was wonderful! A few of us felt like our eyes might've been burning. Maybe it was just the glorious sight of so much humulus lupulus there at our feet.
The comments from folks walking by during our picking party were especially cool. "That's what hops look like?" Yes it is. A few of our customers (and Dick Kreck, the Denver Post's famed beer scribe) joined in to pick a few with us. It was great fun. A true hoppening.
We ended up with about 60 pounds of just-picked Chinook hops. These glorious cones were used in the beer that afternoon.The leftover vines and leaves? Composted in our composting setup to return to the soil.
We brew a second batch of Belgorado next week, this time with fresh hops flown in from Leroux Creek Farms near Hotchkiss, CO.
On September 15 the first batch of Belgorado starts flowing, be there for the first glasses.