Us brewers get a little excited about the annual hop harvest. Our cool rooms are getting bare, and we look forward to the sweet smell of the new crops. Ash caught up with Renn Blackman (Blackman’s Brewery, Torquay) and got chatting about how great amazing fresh hops are. The conversation quickly steered toward collaborating together and creating a beer using the new season pickings. Before long it was collectively agreed on one of the most defined, fruity and pungent hop varieties grown locally, called Galaxy. Galaxy was to shine through as the star for our collaboration beer. These hops would be taken straight from the ‘Bine’ from the farm, without any form of drying or processing.
Collectively we share a passion for a carefully made lager. In fact we both have a lager as our lead beer. The tropical passion fruit aroma of Galaxy Hops was going to need a rich malt bill in order for balance, and in this ‘Wet Hop Red Bock’ was conceived. A 5.8% malty, red bock Lager that is. We chose Pilsner, two different Munich’s and ‘CaraRed’ malt to provide the backbone. Once we locked in the recipe (over a beer of course) we just had to wait patiently for word from the farmers that the hops were ripe for the picking.
Ash made the trek out to Rostrevor Hop Farm in the Victorian highlands, near Bright. The farmers were pulling down the Galaxy bines and the whole landscape smelt like a glass of a dank, potent IPA. Fresh, moist hops don’t last long so once harvested they were quickly loaded into Ash’s car and he putted his way back toward Blackman’s Brewery.
“We are going to need a lot of hops” was the quote of the whole experience, mentioned by both brewers at multiple points. When wet, hops weigh 4-5 times the equivalent weight of when they are dry. In order to extract all the citrusy goodness from the ‘Galaxy’ hops, we crammed in several bucket loads (20kg to be precise), using the Lauter tun which is usually used for malt, beer’s primary ingredient.
After a long wait of cold fermentation and the results from a healthy yeast strain the beer is now ready and we’ll be serving it first at these fine venues this weekend.
Friday April 22nd – The Alehouse Project, Brunswick East.
Sunday April 24th – Dr Morse, Abbotsford.
Wednesday April 27th – Blackman’s Brewery, Torquay
Please let us know what you think of our collaboration.
(Photos by Heidi Atkins & Ash)