You may have noticed the signs around promoting the Lost Coast Fresh Hop Fest we’re having at Gyppo on October 12th by now (Did you get your ticket yet? They’re limited to 200 and will sell out!), and you may be asking yourself, what is all the fuss about? It’s simple, and complicated… but to boil it down, there is nothing comparable to the flavor and aromas attained from hops that are fresh. And I mean FRESH! The moment that the hop flower is removed from the bine aromatic compounds are immediately being lost to the beer gods. The goal for us as brewers is to get the cones off the bine and in to the beer as fast as possible to capture as many of these compounds as possible. In the past this luxury was reserved for those who were close to the hop farms. Close enough to run over when the phone rang, grab your hops, and run back to the brewhouse. That is still mostly true, save for the hop farms that will pack up and air freight bales to you. However, following in that freewheelin’ spirit that we all have here in SoHum, we took matters in to our own hands.
We are fortunate enough to live in a small, beautiful, rugged and remote location. But being so remote doesn’t mean we don’t have some modern conveniences. We have a 9-hole golf course! A general store that has everything you’ll ever need (you may need to adjust your needs a little, but they will be met)!!, a Venezuelan Restaurant!!! A Thai Restaurant!!!! And….. wait for it… an Airstrip!!!!!
Thanks to some great communication and a lot of flexibility from Indie Hops, Coleman Agriculture, and our trusty pilot Trent Sanders, we were able to obtain our hops, off the bine and into our beer in three hours! What’s even better is that all the participating breweries, kombucha maker and cidery got theirs just as fast.
We flew out Tuesday morning, landed in Independence, OR. Got a ride to, and a whirlwind tour of Coleman Agriculture and their luscious hop farm. And then watched as they stripped the flowers off the bine, put them in bags, and handed them to us. After a quick ride back to the plane and some excellent Tetris work by our trusty pilot, we flew the hops down to Shelter Cove with a quick pit stop at Murray Air Field in Eureka where we met Six Rivers Brewing, Humboldt Cider Company, Mad River Brewing, It’s Alive Kombucha, Port O’Pints Brewing and SeaQuake Brewing. After some logistics needing to be sorted out due to a broken scale. We took off and got back to Gyppo. Trent and I walked the hops in to the brewery from the airstrip, and I transferred our beer to a fermenter that I loaded full of 45# of the FRESHEST Hops I have ever had the pleasure of seeing (and smelling!).
It’s hard to put in to words what they smell like, it’s sort of like fresh tomatoes and grapes, basil, geraniums, spice and some otherworldly field of wild flowers and sweetgrass. Oh, and cannabis. The beer is sure to take on some of these aromas, and over time others we can’t yet detect. We will lose some, but we gain more. Indeed.
So, to get back on track. The Lost Coast Fresh Hop Fest is a chance for a few of us who work in the beverage world to feature an ingredient at its finest. Each participating brewery will create what their imagination comes up with and we will all tap our kegs here at Gyppo on the 12th of October. To add a little something extra, all proceeds from the event are going to benefit the Healy Senior Center in Redway. They are in some serious need and we all know how important it is to have them doing what they do.
In this spirit, we got together for a Collaboration Brew with Mad River for this event. We settled on an export Lager or, Dortmunder as it was called in the old days. This will be a higher ABV, bigger bodied Pilsener style brew, which will hold up to the fresh hop goodness. What do you think everyone else is going to do?