If you haven’t heard then I’m happy to tell you that New Belgium Brewing Company will be coming to Ohio on December 16th, just over a month away. In perpetration for there roll out they kindly hooked me up with some samples. We took a taste of Accumulation last week when the first snows fell and today I’m trying their Ranger IPA. I first reviewed New Belgium’s Ranger IPA last year after bringing a bottle back from North Carolina.
Bring out the hops! This clear amber beauty bursts at the starting gate with an abundance of hops: Cascade (citrus), Chinook (floral/citrus), and Simcoe (fruity) lead off the beer, with Cascade added again for an intense dry hop flavor. Brewed with pale and dark caramel malts that harmonize the hop flavor from start to finish, Ranger is a sessionable splendor for all you hopinistas. Thank your Beer Ranger!
The Ohio State University has a research farm in Piketon, OH and I was invited to attend an informational meeting on growing hops in Ohio along with a tour of their hop yard.
There are no records of commercial hops operations in Ohio since around 1920. Back then the Ohio crops were virtually wiped out by downy mildew disease, something that is still a concern today… prohibition had to hurt a bit too.
That was nearly 100 years ago and things have hopefully changed for the better. Some may be asking why should THE Ohio State University (OSU), the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) care about hops?
First off they’re a very important part of beer, especially in IPAs which reign supreme among craft beer styes. Take that high demand combined with worldwide shortages in recent years and fewer folks growing less hops on the west coast, America’s current top hop spot.
OSU cares even more about hops in Ohio due to the locavore trend. For a few years now more and more folks have wanted local produce and everyone wants to know how many of their local brewers ingredients are local. This is a question I’ve thrown at every brewer I’ve interviewed, their response is along the lines of “None, there aren’t any local ingredients available, but maybe some spices here or there.”
If OSU can help Ohio farmers grow Ohio hops then Ohio brewers can give Ohio residents a more local product.
Many folks were interested in what varieties were being tried. The core line up was Cascade, Nugget, Williamette, Columbus, Sterling, and Centennial with Galena, Mt. Hood, Hallertauer tradition, and Spalter Select as additional varieties. Without any doubt Columbus was growing the tallest with the most cones, cones being the part “where the magic happens”.
I turned to twitter to see if folks had question and provided answers below were I could:
@sudsanonymous: Are rhizomes planted at intervals to allow for more frequent harvests?
No one is doing this yet but the researchers seemed to think it was a great idea and may try it next year.
@L_AllenH: When I buy rhizomes some suggest planting vertically and others horizontally… what is the science behind it?
Doesn’t seem to matter because like they say in Jurassic park life will find a way. But do plant two rhizomes per spot to make sure at least one takes.
As of right now there are really only 2 people growing more then a few plants. They’ve both worked out arrangements with local brewers near them. One of those arrangements is whole hops, used in dry hoping, in exchange for Jackie O’s growlers… that’s my kind of arrangement. The other guy has a deal worked out with Yellow Springs Brewery, not sure the details there but if it involves Captain Stardust it’s a win!
@LooseScrewBeers: Whats the biggest problem they face growing hops in Ohio? Is it bugs? Fungal diseases? Other?
No one has seen fungal diseases or bugs yet but downy mildew is starting to set in on some plants, though they should be harvested any day now.
Going a bit further on @LooseScrewBeers question there are two pretty big impediments for Ohio farmers right now. First off they’re looking at about $10,000 per acre invested (not including land or labor) just to get the hops in the ground. Then you have to cut them down, pick them off the bines (not vines), and dry them. All three of those are very labor intensive activities that have yet to be efficiently automated…. though a machine meant for “medical” marijuana is showing some promise. After that $10,000 investment and that labor they’re looking at $2,000 yield the first year, hopefully going up to $7,000 in subsequent years. Which could put them at 3 – 5 years to pay off that initial investment… before making any profit.
I didn’t want to get overly heavy into the research that was done by OSU or the magic of hops; but hit me up if you’re curious and I’ll send you a copy [Update: I’m surprised by the number of people asking for this material, so don’t hit me up anymore just go to Google Drive] of the material they handed out PLUS stay tuned to the blog because I plan a post on the science of the hop.
Lastly I also found out I’m not mature enough for a discussion about aged natural grass fed cattle fertilizer… which is the fanciest way I’ve ever heard anyone say cow shit.
A few days ago I did a Quick Sip review of Anchor Liberty Ale over on the Queen City Drinks Facebook page. If you haven’t liked us on Facebook yet now is a great time to do it so you can keep up to date with the quick sip reviews. I enjoyed this beer so much that I felt compelled to give it a full blog post. But it isn’t just a tasty beverage, it has a significant history to it!
The folks at Dogfish Head are frequent collaborators with Sierra Nevada on beer, this time Spiegelau joined the party and they all created “a glass that would serve as the new global standard for the American IPA style of beer.” I’ve already got a few Spiegelau glasses and can tell you they are my favorite thing to drink out of. That said I’m really excited to try out this new IPA glass. A new batch of Dogfish Head’s 75 minute IPA recently arrived around town so what better to fill my new Dogfish Head glass. I’m going to use this beer to compare this new IPA glass with a standard American shaker pint glass like you find at most bars and restaurants.
75 minute IPA is, like it sounds, a combination of 60 minute IPA and 90 minute IPA. Now there are 2 kinds of 75 minute IPA running around the world. The older of the two is a simple combining of 1/2 60 minute IPA + 1/2 90 minute IPA, either from the bottle or the tap. I plan on reviewing this “beer” as well as the 60 & 90 in the next few weeks. The version on hand today is very similar except it’s specially brewed with DFH’s 75-minute continual hopping. Then they add maple syrup to sweeten things up and create some natural carbonation.
I had decided to focus on locally available beers but then an awesome new beer buddy decided to rock my world and hook me up with some tasty offerings. Firestone Walker Brewing Company is one of those legendary California breweries, but it’s still kinda climbing the ranks compared to some places like Stone or Russian River. Just looking at Rate Beer there are 22 beers from Firestone with 90+ scores. They won the World Beer Cup for mid-sized brewery in 2004, 2006, and 2010. The Union Jack has won 12 awards since 2008 ranging from bronze to gold from competitions around the world.