Upper Thames Makes Two Fresh Hop Ales!

by admin Aug 31, 2018

At Upper Thames we love to brew using fresh, local ingredients. Last year we didn’t release a fresh-hopped beer, so we are making up for it this year and releasing two! Our brewers Drake and Nigel ventured to Tavistock Hop Company and VQH Hop Farm to select the cream of this years crop.

Before we dive into where we got the hops I guess it’s important to explain why a “fresh” – or “wet hopped” beer is different than a regular hopped beer. Wet hops give many of the flavours we are accustomed to in regular (pelletized) hops, but offer a more subtle and relaxed version. By using them while fresh, it captures the flavours in their natural state – and gives us a true flavour and terroir of Ontario-grown hops. These hops will have travelled from bine to brew in less than an hour.

The first stop we made was in Tavistock for their harvest of Centennial hops. We procured three massive bags of the green little beauties totaling 25 pounds. It is definitely something to behold – seeing the harvest of hops. The smell of them hits you right away as you enter the harvesting and drying rooms. Huge bouquets of floral, citrus and lemon aromas wake you up and remind you how beautiful these ingredients are. The centennial hops we used in the brew for “Drop It Like It’s Hops,” will give you plenty of vibrant lemon and floral notes and is also accompanied by a bubblegum-like sweetness and a touch of earthiness.

The guys and gals at Tavistock are an amazing bunch. They had us all down for a massive appreciation night at the farm where they fed all of us with Todd’s Dogs and gave us tractor rides around the expansive hop fields. Other breweries from the area including Shakespeare Brewing Co., Together We’re Bitter, Hespeler Brewing Co. and Howell Road Brewing Co. were there to share in the experience.

Drake, Nigel and Adam at Tavistock Hop Co.’s harvest of Centennial hops!

The second fresh hopped ale we brewed consisted of hops from our good friends at VQH Hop Farm in Eden, Ontario. We’ve been using their Cascade hops in our brews for about a year now and we couldn’t be happier with the product. When we heard it was time for Cascade harvest we fired up the Upper Thames van and hit the road! We snapped up 28 pounds of beautiful fresh Cascade hops and sped back to the brewery to get them into the whirlpool ASAP! This brew will be a bit milder but is very well-balanced and not as hard-hitting as the 7.3% Tavistock iteration. The Cascade gives it subtle floral and citrus notes with a touch of starburst pink flavour and ruby red grapefruit.

The cascade hop bine being put into the harvester, at VQH Farms.

The Tavistock ale we dubbed “Drop It Like It’s Hops,” is available Tuesday September 4th and the VQH variety will be available September 13th. It will be on tap at the brewery and in 750ml bottles to take home. Our brewers definitely advise trying some fresh off the tap for the best taste and aroma! Get them quick because we only made a single batch of each, and once these brews are gone – they won’t be back until next September! We hope you enjoy them and as always, thanks for all of your support.

Cascade Hops from VQH Farms in Eden, ON.

Author: Nigel Inglis

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