Photo by Wing Ta
Just by virtue of the fact that you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you have your own backyard hop garden, or know someone who does. Which further means that sometime in the general vicinity of Labor Day you’ll have access to grocery bag after grocery bag of fresh, undried hop cones. Which, to carry this line of thinking to its logical conclusion, means wet hop beer.
This is going to look like a lot of hops for five gallons, and it is. But bear in mind that fresh hops have a lot of water weight that would otherwise be removed in the hop kiln. In terms of acid and oil contribution, one ounce of dried, processed hop flowers is equal to 5-6 ounces of fresh cones straight off the bine. Variety is up to you and what’s available—obviously a hop like Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, or the like will be classic, but we can certainly turn out a very nice wet hop ale with Liberty, Willamette, or others.
But before we get to all that fresh, wet goodness, we’ll use CO2- extracted hop resin (aka hop extract) for the main boil addition. This will help us out in a couple ways: first, because it’s, at best, very difficult to calculate IBU contribution from homegrown hops. Hop extract is a known quantity and will make the bittering addition much less of a shot in the dark. Second, we’re already dumping in a lot of green plant material, and the hop extract will curb wort loss just a bit.
And before that, we’ll establish a nice malt foundation with Maris Otter and a bit of English Caramalt for color and light toffee flavor to underscore the ripe, citric and/or herbal and/or spicy flavor of your fresh crop.