Monday, October 31, 2011

Brewing of a Wet Hop Amber Ale - Now on Tap at Quarter Barrel

Ah, two blogs in one day. I forgot to release this with the release of our latest beer at Quarter Barrel. Brandon and I decided now to synchronize the release my blog with a beer that we release, instead of publishing it then 5 weeks later tasting the beer.

This beer that we brewed this past August coincided with a hop harvest. Brandon had this style in mind that he wanted to brew and to complement the malts, we decided to use fresh hops to add some earthy tones to the beer. What came out of it is the Wet Hop Amber Ale.

To this beer, we had a variety of malts and all fresh hops that I harvested from my parents farm in Michigan. My mother's business, Nelson's Herbs, started growing hops the year before last. We have 6 varieties, Cascade, Chinook, Hallertau Magnum, Mt. Hood, Santium, and Tettnanger hops. Of these 6 varieties, we planted 5 rhizomes of each, except for only 2 rhizomes of the Tettnanger.

For this particular beer, we used hops varieties that we have got a large harvest from (Cascade and Chinook). The grain bill is the following:

50# Pale Malt UK
5# Caramel/Crystal 60 Malt
5# Munich Malt
3# Caramel/ Crystal 120 Malt
2# Victory Malt
0.5# Roasted Barley Malt

To the grains we added 178°F water and kept the mash at 156°F. Another thing that was special about this beer is that we get to use our brand new fermenter. Now we have the capability to make twice as much as we use to with 2 1-hectoliter fermenters. Yes, hectoliter, 100 liters, and everything is that much cooler in metric.

After 60 minutes we drained the mashtun into the boil kettle, while fly-sparging, and started to heat the wort. Fly-sparging (Denny does a better job at describing it as well as other types of sparging) is the technique in which we keep the water level just the top of the grain-bed, while draining slowly, until we estimate that we need to drain the grain bed dry to have the correct amount after the boil to fill the fermenter.

During the boil process we had time to clean.  We started to cycle PBW to clean the fermenter, pump, lines, and plate chiller for 20 minutes at which time we drained and started the cycle again this time with Iodophor to sanitize.

We had to use more wet hops to make up the lack of water in dry hops. To the boil had added the following hop addition:

5.0 oz. Chinook (60 min)
4.0 oz. Chinook (10 Min)
4.0 oz. Cascade (10 Min.)
5.0 oz. Cascade (0 min, Aroma Hop Steep)
5.0 oz. Chinook (0 min, Aroma Hop Steep)

After the boil, we transferred the wort to the fermenter, through the plate chiller, allowing for plenty aeration. We then added the yeast slurry of US-05 yeast connected the blow off tube and pushed the fermenter back into the closet. The Wet Hop Amber is on tap currently at Quarter Barrel.


  1. The Wet Hop Amber Ale was fantastic! Though, when ordered I expected a pint and instead got a small snifter. How do I know when I get a pint or a snifter at Quarter Barrel? Seriously... the Hop Amber Ale was very smooth and left a great taste on the palate.

  2. I'm glad that you appreciated it! At Quarter, we serve all the beer that we brew in house in half-pints. Everything else that is served in half-pints have an asterisk next to beer on the beer board. I'm glad that you like what we brewed and I hope that you come back for more!

  3. I normally have no high expectations for a home brew but when I got this beer I HAD to have another glass, it was fantastic.

  4. Thank you...the recipe was Brandon's idea. The Wet Hop is no longer on tap, because it went so fast.

  5. that looks like the wet hop bill of a 5 gallon ipa!

  6. Ya, if you want a way out of balance 36% ABV beer and 23 IBU. Look at the grain bill and see that 65 pounds of grain is not fit for a 5 gallon beer.

  7. I did say wet hop bill.

    Out here in Hop country we use a 5 to 1 ratio for wet hops. They lose around 75-80 percent of their weight when drying.

    The extra amount in weight is to account for the typically smaller amounts of alpha and beta acids that usually come with homegrown hops.

    I was simply commenting on the fact that the amount of wet hops would be around the amount used in a 5 gallon wet hop IPA. I certainly was not trying to criticize your recipe.

    I'm certain it made a great Amber Ale and I am jealous that your family grows hops!

    Don't take it personal!


  8. Oh shit...I'm sorry man! My mistake, I wasn't paying attention this morning when I responded. Thanks for your input. It actually came out pretty hoppy. I'm pretty sure that we will brew something similar next fall. Where are you from? Hop country, I'm thinking from the Pacific NW. Again, I apologize for being an ass.