Oregon brewing pioneers the Widmer Brothers Brewing always turn out some great often under-recognized beers and are often on the forefront of the hottest new hop varieties. This year they have turned more focus back onto their flagship Hefeweizen and are making two different Fresh Hop Hefe’s which to me sounds positively delightful. A nice dry hopped wheat is a thing of beauty, a fresh hopped version of America’s prototypical wheat? yes please. I did a Q & A with the team and brewer Evan Taylor about the beers and the fresh hop season this year.
Q: How many fresh hop beers is Widmer making this year?
two versions of Fresh Hop Hefe.
Q: Can you tell me about each one, what style they are and what fresh hop your using?
one with Centennial hops and one with Willamette. Evan Taylor picked up 100 lbs of Centennial and 200 lbs of Willamette from Goschie Farms and they were in the kettle an hour later. both were wet hops.
Q: Many brewers have their own theories on how best to use Fresh Hops. What is your theory/technique?
Straight from Evan:
Wet hops are subtle, simple as that. You have to use at least 5 times what you would use to really taste them. I think they are best used on the hot side in a hop back application. At our pilot brewery, we use the Mash Tun as our hopback. We used 100lbs Centennial and after discovering we could fit more in there I used 200lbs Willamette. Wet hops do have a grassy character but fresh hop beers are more about a lesson in hops for the beer fan. Being in the NW where hops are in our backyard we are the only breweries that can do true wet hop beers. So for NW customers they are able to experience what fresh hops taste like straight from the vine. They notice a distinct difference when in comparison to kilned hops or pelletized hops.
To me fresh hop and wet hop can be two different things. Wet hop means straight off the vine, no drying to kilning. Fresh hop can mean that also or it can mean hops that are freshly kilned or dried. Often breweries not in the PNW will make fresh hop beers using freshly kilned hops because wet hops must be used right away and don’t ship well. So either works I guess depending on how technical you want to get. At Widmer Brothers this year the 100lbs and 200lbs of hops we used were wet, straight off the vine. However, due to their subtle character we’ll dry hop with a small amount of freshly kilned hops to get the aroma to pop a little.
Q: What is the release schedule this year or if you don’t know when can we expect your first fresh hop beer?
the version with Centennial hops tapped last week, and Willamette was tapped yesterday.
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