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Home Brewing a Pale Ale with Home Grown Fresh Hops

Many people wonder whether, as a beer expert, if I brew beer at home. The answer is yes especially this time of year. In order to lead Beer City Brewery Tours at world class breweries in Asheville I love to get my hands dirty by home brewing and taking on the process myself. The experience really is humbling and provides so much education for my tours as well as for my beers.

Another big reason that I brew this time of year is that we are currently in fresh hop harvest. I have fresh whole cone Cascade, Centennial, and Columbus hops growing at my house. These hops were planted six years ago after picking up three rhizomes from Yakima Valley in Washington state. I put them in the ground and they have popped up every year since. As a perennial plant/flower I know that I can expect to have hops come back each and every year as long as I take good care of the soil and maintain and train them correctly. If I provide ample sun and water to the plants I will be able to utilize them in the brewing process. By using fresh hops I am able to showcase the special fresh flavor, aroma, and bitterness in my fresh hop home brews.

Like reading about hops? Click here to check out my other beer and brewing related to hops.

This year I decided to make a hoppy (not necessarily bitter) beer to showcase those West Coast fresh hops. I managed to harvest a little over a pound of hops this year which is quite substantial for one batch of beer. Hop cones, or flowers, are quite light and do not weigh very much so it was a very good harvest. Brewing doesn't get any more special than with your own whole cone hops in my opinion. I really enjoy trimming, watering and harvesting them every year. It is very therapeutic for me but not nearly as much as drinking the final product. It takes all of the spring and summer to get to the point where hops become viable for the end of summer fresh hop brew. I think the wait is worth it when you hold that fresh hopped beer in your hand in August or September.

How does this relate to commercial brewing? Brewing at home uses the same elements of a commercial brewhouse on a much smaller scale without the fancy equipment. It takes me back to the roots of the beer Renaissance that we are living in the United States currently. If it weren't for home brewers pushing the boundaries of beer and home brewing back in the 80s and 90s we would not have over 9,000 breweries nationwide today. Besides, why not brew an awesome pale ale with the fresh hops that I harvested at home?

Above is a picture of my late addition Cascade hops that were added to the boil at 10 minutes as well as flameout and whirlpool. Also a 1 oz. Cascade pellet addition at 60 minutes was introduced for some bitterness to this 100% pale malt Pale Ale. By adding these whole cone fresh hops late in the boil I am aiming to impart some wet hopped vegetal, grapefruit and pine notes on the nose to flavor this pale ale. This flavor profile will hopefully be the essence of this beer as well as tasting like the hops smelled when I picked them a little over a week ago. Now we wait for fermentation to chew away at those sugars that we produced in the mash. I am using a very clean WLP001 Cali Ale yeast to hopefully let the hops shine. I will dry hop with some Citra pellets that I have in the freezer to balance the vegetal characteristics of the fresh hops with some citrusy aromas from our beloved Citra hops.

If you want to learn more about what happens in the mash, boil and fermentation process as well as all of the other processes of beer come on a Beer City Brewery Tours experience today. We introduce our guests to several different styles of beer while learning the ins and outs of brewing, breweries and the stories of breweries in Asheville. Beer City Brewery Tours is the best place to start when visiting Asheville as we are open every single day and no group is too small or too large. We love to show off our beer backyard and even throw in stickers and a koozie to help your remember your good times on your tour.

Book your Beer City Brewery Tour today!


Evan Rosenberg


Beer City Brewery Tours

Asheville, NC

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