Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ska's hop harvest

Ska Brewing Co. will release its fresh-hop IPA on Sept. 22.

Hoperation Ivy uses hops from San Juan Hop Farms near Montrose. This is from Ska:

Last summer, while returning to Durango with a truckload of Cascade hops that had just been harvested by a crew of Ska employees, co-founder Bill Graham had a
revelation: “My truck smelled like hops, I smelled like hops, and I thought to myself, using locally-grown hops that we just picked a few hours ago is going to make an incredible beer," he said in a news release provided by Ska. "It’s a very unique, seasonal beer that can only be brewed once a year, and it is also low impact. That’s why there’s such a buzz around using local ingredients in food, and beer is food, right?”

Ska is once again traveling a few hours north to San Juan Hop Farms, and harvest Colorado-grown Cascade hops to create another batch of wet-hopped India Pale Ale. Generally, when hops are harvested they are dried and pressed into pellets but fresh hop, or “wet hop” beers use whole flowers that were plucked from the vine just hours before and still retain most of the volatile flavors that are lost during processing.

As Graham realized, it’s not only an opportunity to create an “almost” local beer, it’s also a chance to reduce the carbon footprint associated with producing a craft beer. Ska co-founder Dave Thibodeau said the brewery jumped at the opportunity to work with a Colorado hop farm. “We’ve always focused on trying to minimize our impact on the planet as the business grows," he said. “Using local ingredients means fewer ingredients we have to transport here from the Northwest or Europe, and that’s about the biggest reduction in impact you can get.”

Hoperation Ivy will be Ska's 13th Local Series beer. Fresh-hop beers do have a unique flavor that is difficult to explain - they're oilier somehow. I enjoyed Ska's fresh-hop beer last year, and look forward to the 2009 edition. Hop-heads should love it.

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