A couple of months late I think it’s time to give a quick run through of our latest release: Fresh Hopwired.
Leading up to the launch of 8 Wired Brewing I had been doing a lot of trials in the garage. One regular beer was a brown ale, that became Rewired. Another was an IPA that became Hopwired. All the trials had been a bit different than the beer we ended up brewing though. Hopwired was always meant to be single hopped with Nelson Sauvin, but by the end of 2009 this hop was pretty much sold out and we could only get our hands on 10 kg. So, we had to improvise and the result was a blend of Nelson Sauvin and Motueka. I wasn’t quite sure how this would turn out but the beer was very well received. So much that it is now our biggest selling beer by far and in all humbleness one of the defining NZ hopped IPAs.
This year we decided to mix it up a little and brew fresh (wet) hopped version. Usually hops are dried straight after harvest, to lock in the flavours. This process is quite gentle but inevitably they will lose some freshness along the way. So it is likely that brewing with fresh hops will change the character of the beer.
Wet hops decompose really fast. So if you want to brew with fresh hops, you have to do it on the day of harvest. That’s exactly what we did. In fact, as we were mashing in the beer, the hops were still on the vine (or bine, as the hop plant is correctly called). The good people at Mac Hops harvested them in Motueka (1.5 hours from Renaissance Brewery in Blenheim) as we were filling the kettle.
As mentioned, we use Motueka and Nelson Sauvin hops. These hops mature two weeks apart so we had to brew 2 batches and blend them after fermentation. The first batch of (Motueka) hops were picked up by our apprentice, Jason, while I took care of the brew at home. The second batch (Nelson Sauvin) I picked up myself after mashing in the beer in the morning. It was a tight squeeze but I managed to fit them all in my 4WD truck. I tell ya, it was a mighty aromatic drive home.
Hopwired is usually hopped with multiple additions in the kettle as well as hopback and dryhop. But due to the vast amount of fresh hops (we used 180 kg fresh, compared to 35 kg dry) we had to improvise a little: We bittered the beer as usual with Pacific Jade (dry pellets was unfortunately the best we could do) and then everything else went into the improvised giant hopback, which is usually the mash/lauter tun. We simply filled up the tank with the fresh hops (and they almost filled the whole vessel and transferred the hot wort on top of it. Let it soak for a few minutes and then transferred it through the heat exchanger to the fermenter as usual. Nothing to it really, just another day at the office. One of the best days of the year though. The inner beer geek sure was a happy beer geek.
So there it is. In my opinion the fresh version is quite different than normal but clearly stems from the same beer. It is less bitter and slightly less aromatic but has a much bigger rounded flavour and almost oily mouth feel. It’s definitely a beer we’ll make again at the next harvest!