- Associated Press - Monday, August 22, 2016

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - It was Christmas for the babes in beerland as Mankato Brewery started making its Fresh Hopped IPA, dumping hundreds of pounds of green hops available just one time each year into the kettle of unfermented beer.

Mankato Brewery teamed up with Minnesota Hops Company in Madelia to use ingredients for the seasonal India pale ale that went from the grower to the brewery in less than an hour, Mankato Free Press (https://bit.ly/2bAcNFN ) reported.

“This only happens once a year,” said Mankato Brewery co-founder Tim Tupy, grinning. “And it’s so special because we have a hopyard that’s so close. For people who are into hops this will give it more of a fresh grassiness.”

Brewers often use hops, the green pine-cone-like flower responsible for beer’s bitterness and aroma, that have been dried and processed instead of straight off the vine because of the small window of time fresh hops are available each year.

Minnesota Hops Company, however is so close to the brewery that the hops simmering in the vat were harvested less than 24 hours before.

“Growing hops is very labor intensive because they have to be harvested really fast, there is only a small window of time when they are ready, about 4 or 5 days. If it is dry and windy the hops can lose some of the oils that give it the taste and aroma” said Minnesota Hops Company founder Jeremy Munson. “We’re on our fourth year out here, this is our third harvest.

Breweries in Minneapolis, Victoria and Rochester all use hops from Munson’s farm, he said. He owns a harvester from Germany that pulls the vines of hops through machinery to pluck the flowers off the plant. The machine can clear as many as 180 vines per hour, perfect for the time crunch at the end of the growing season. Munson said he was one of the first hops growers in the state to get the machine. After the hops are pulled off the vine they are either used or dried.

The brewery had to keep several kettles on standby to produce the 90 barrels of the IPA while they waited for the go-ahead about the harvest from Minnesota Hops Company, said head brewer Jacob Hamilton. He joked about Tupy’s excitement for the Fresh Hopped IPA. This batch of beer will be on sale in September.

“This is locals supporting locals,” Tupy said. Lots of breweries will order fresh hops from other places, but they must travel across the country to get to the beer maker. Within a day the bright green flowers begin to lose vibrance. The timing, type and way the hops are processed into the beer all have an effect on how the end result tastes.

The plant only grows in certain parts of the world, including Minnesota. This is the third year Mankato Brewery has made the beer with the fresh or “wet” hops. Tupy said beer drinkers who are self-proclaimed “hop heads” will like it.

The longer hops are boiled in the kettle, the more bitter the beer tastes, and the later they are added to the process the more of the hops specific taste and smell are in the final product, Tupy said. The fresh hops are added right before the beer heads to the fermenter so that the green taste comes through when the customer grabs a pint.


Information from: The Free Press, https://www.mankatofreepress.com

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