City Star Brewing’s Hydro-Pony Express HYPA will be one of the first fresh hop beers to be released this season and one of the first commercial brews in the country to employ the use of hydroponic hops.
On July 29th Colin Clark and his team at Hydro Hop Farms began harvesting fresh hydroponically grown Colorado hops at 5:30am. After the hops were picked they traveled down the road to City Star Brewing in Berthoud, Colorado where the “wet” fresh hops were added to the brew kettle by 10:30am. While most fresh hop beers won’t be available until mid-September, City Star Brewing will release Hydro-Pony Express HYPA in their tasting room on Saturday, August 22nd. How’s that possible? Hydro Hop Farms owner Colin Clark explains,
“Our early hops are made possible by two factors; climate control and advanced growing techniques. Being in a greenhouse we can control our ambient temps above and beyond what Mother Nature gives us. This means that when most hop growers are waiting for that last frost to pass prior to planting we are already weeks into growing. On top of that we can “spoon-feed” our hops the exact amount of water and nutrients that they require to thrive. So when putting both of these things together we are able to have a large jump start on our growing season.”
Hydro Hop Farms’ state of the art 5,000 square foot hydroponic greenhouse emphasizes quality hops. They can fine tune specific nutrients to maximize oil content, resulting in a high quality hop cone in terms of total oils. More hop oils means more flavor and more flavor means tastier beer. The benefits of utilizing these high quality hops is exponential in the practice of fresh hopping a beer. Hydroponic hops require fewer precious resources, are grown without the use of pesticides, and the yield per acre is much higher than hops grown with traditional farming methods.
Fresh hopping is a method of brewing with hops that are harvested fresh and added to the brew kettle in under 24 hours. “Wet” fresh hops are harvested at the peak of ripeness and are neither kiln dried nor processed. Fresh hops are unique in the fact that the flavor they impart can be described as grassy, delicate, and multi-dimensional. Brewing with fresh hops is labor intensive but adds a unique flavor profile to the finished beer. Since it’s only possible to brew a beer like this during the fall harvest in the Northern Hemisphere it is well worth the extra effort for a chance to introduce a flavorful, one-of-a-kind seasonal beer.
Over 30 pounds of freshly harvested Columbus and Centennial fresh hops were used in the whirlpool and hop back additions of the 7 barrel brew of Hydro-Pony Express HYPA. An additional 12 pounds of Centennial fresh hops will be added directly to the finished beer to amplify that fresh hop flavor before being poured into your glass. Hydro-Pony Express HYPA will be released in City Star Brewing’s taproom at noon on Saturday, August 22.