A Green Hopped Munich Dunkel

I faced a couple of problems at the end of this years hop harvest: what to brew with them and how to store the hops.

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I had tried drying my hops last year, but this wasn’t very successful. I had read some articles and forum posts on alternative storage methods and freezing seemed to provide the solution I was after.

I finally settled on brewing a Green Hopped Munich Dunkel – just as the temperature started to get into the perfect cellar range for brewing a lager.

I don’t really grow hops to replace the dried hops that I can readily get from the local homebrew shop or online (as I can’t dry or store them in quantity); nor do I grow multiple varieties to provide both bittering and flavour/aroma hops. I set out to grow hops to get access to green hops to get the freshest and unique hopped quality that only a green hopped beer is supposed to provide.

With that in mind I took the 2kg or so of hops that I had harvested and froze them in 1kg bags. Since I am growing Hallertauer Hersbrucker I needed an opportunity to brew a larger to see how a green hopped larger would work out.

I could have gone for the stock Kellerbier / Munich Helles recipe, but with the need for dark beers increasing with the decreasing temperatures, I thought a Munich Dunkel would be the way to go.

Green Hopped Munich Dunkel Recipe

Boil Size: 30.60 l
Post Boil Volume: 27.60 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 23.00 l
Bottling Volume: 21.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.061 SG
Estimated Color: 42.3 EBC
Estimated IBU: 28.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 85.3 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
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3.50 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (3.9 EBC) Grain 1 56.9 %
2.15 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC) Grain 2 34.9 %
0.25 kg Melanoidin (59.1 EBC) Grain 3 4.1 %
0.14 kg Black Malt (1160.0 EBC) Grain 4 2.3 %
0.11 kg Carafa I (663.9 EBC) Grain 5 1.9 %

80.00 g Saaz [3.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 22.3 IBUs
0.30 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 7 –
400.00 g Hallertauer Hersbrucker [0.50 %] – Steep Hop 20 min 5.1 IBUs
18.00 g Hallertau [2.50 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 20 min 1.2 IBUs
1 pkg Saflager Lager (DCL/Fermentis #W-34/70)

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.15 kg
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Mash In Add 17.55 l of water at 72.6 C 66.7 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (4.67l, 16.05l) of 75.6 C water

The Mash

 

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I managed to hit my mash temperature at dough in bang on. Total mash time was close to the 60 minutes before sparging (twice in my case since my HLT only holds about 18 Ltrs) and I ended up with close to 29 Ltrs in the end with a pre boil gravity of 1.045 meaning I had undershot the expected pre boil gravity of 1.053. I’m starting to suspect that a 90 minutes mash and a better grain crush might be the way to go to get a better efficiency!

The Boil

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Since this was a 90 minutes boil the first 30 minutes are without any hop additions – just watching to avoid any boil overs!

The hops were some ‘old’ Saaz I had left over for the 90 minute addition and for flavour at the end, 18 g of Hersbrucker just to use them up.

Adding the Green Hops

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I wanted to preserve as much of the green hop quality without extracting too much vegetal / chlorophyll so I opted for a large whirlpool addition at flame out.

I could not see any green hop additions in the BeerSmith brewing software that, I use so I ‘guestimated’ that since green hops can need anywhere between 4 – 8 times more to get the same Alpha Acids as dried hops – would calculate based on a quarter of a low alpha acid content for my home grown hops to account for this.

It was a large addition, and I was surprised how 400g of green hops wasn’t so ridiculous that it left too much wort back in the kettle after the end of the boil. Having said that, 400g might not have been enough – only time will tell. It certainly seemed to have a hoppy aroma and bitterness when I sampled some of the cooled wort.

Fermenting

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I made a small 1 liter starter overnight from some of the cooled wort left in the kettle that didn’t get transferred via the plate chiller and added this back in the morning (I tend to leave the beer overnight with a lager to get it to a cooler temperature than I can presently work too with the plate chiller).

The finished beer is happily fermenting away in the cellar in the 10-12 centigrade range and has produced a nice krausen: not perhaps as thick and pillowy as I get with some of the light Helles largers.

Conclusions

Whilst it is a bit early to tell, the green hops were not too difficult to work with and freezing them seems to be a very viable way of keeping them for a (probably) short period after harvest to extend the period that you can brew green hopped beers from one harvest. The hops cones were still fresh and green, they had not broken down or imparted anything other than the hop qualities you expect. Having said that something is likely to be lost in storing them this way for an extended period and I might well have underplayed or overplayed the green hops in this beer.

But then that is what a green hopped beer is all about: unpredictability and seasonality producing a beer that is a bit outside of the norm.

Perhaps freezing green hops is also a way of extending the time you can get to enjoy these beers outside of what is otherwise a very narrow window of production normally.

Only time will tell.

 

Don’t forget to string your hops!

It’s that time of year again when I nearly forget to string my Hallertauer hops at the allotment.

Looks like I only just managed to catch then this week before they got a bit too keen to work their way up the posts. The weather has really seen them shoot up:

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There are far too many bines so the aim is to train 2-3 bines per string. Time to rope the string up:

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The rope is coir, a natural coconut by-product, which has the right strength for providing support to the hop bines and plenty of texture for them to cling too on their way up (and across in my set up). I always forget to soak the coir so that it doesn’t slacken in the wet when it rains next, but I can always tie off the end again to take up the slack.

The coir is best fixed using really secure galvanized hooks to tie the ends off to:

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When the coir is tied off with a (very un-boy scout style) knot, these pegs can be screwed into the soil to get a really good purchase. The advantage with these is that you can tighten the coir if it does slacken in the rain, but you have to leave enough to screw in later, or you can reposition the peg further away before screwing back them back in.

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So that’s the stringing finished. It took about half an hour for this arrangement. Which allows for the right amount of growth height, but in an area where a 6-8 metre post is a problem.

There are plenty of bines this year so I hope to train 2 or 3 up each string and I “should” get an even better crop than last year.

It’s important to select 2/3 that are healthy, but will allow for the right amount of growth through the season to reach harvest. I may have to select two or three of the shorter bines, and sacrifice the first shoots to make sure that those chosen get the maximum number of days growth.

They grow clockwise, so over the following weeks I’ll train these up and across and keep nipping any unwanted shoots out.

Drying or using them up can be problem for me, so this year, weather / disease / pests / yields permitting, I aim to offer these as a “green hop” for any of the local home brewers (or commercial brewers for that matter) to use.

Here’s hoping for a good 2017 harvest.

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That was quite the break

I have been away from blogging for a while, but thought that now would be a good time to get back into the habit – start of a New Year and all that.

It might be best to summarise what has been going on over the last few months and pick up from there:

 

Growing Hops

My last post was just before the hop harvest and I was very pleasantly surprised by the quantity of hops I got from the one Hallertauer plant that survived (the First Gold didn’t make it).

The first years growth is really only to build up the roots for the second and third year, when the plant should be at its most productive, and anything you get in year one is a bonus.

However, the photos from the summer showed just how much growth it put on in the one season and I really could not strip every cone from the plant at harvest – a lot went to waste (insert crying emoji here).

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I plan on going to the allotment to tidy things up and take the bines and coir down and weed a bit to get ready for spring. I also think the supports need an upgrade to improve the way the Hops train across, but otherwise, I’m very happy with the set up.

Fingers crossed it makes it through the winter and there are plenty of hops for next year. I really have more than I can cope with / store, so next year I may put the call out to any of the excellent breweries in Manchester to see if they want to do a brew with Manchester home-grown green hops! Place your hop contract orders here for Hop Harvest 2017!

 

Kit Upgrade

As shown in the odd post on twitter, I’ve upgraded my kit and taken the Brewhouse down into the cellar on a permanent basis.

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I now have a 50ltr boil kettle with an electric element to supplement the 30ltr cooler mash tun I already had when boiling on the kitchen stove top. All courtesy of the folks at BrewBuilder – they had some very nice kit and I can’t fault the quality of their stuff.

The elements take a bit of time to get up to a boil, but they are “kettle” type elements and it is quite a lot of liquid to heat – but it so much easier than gas on the hob and much cleaner.

I also invested in a plate chiller and cooling from just off the boil to pitching temperature now only takes about 15 minutes which makes a massive difference to the length of a brew day.

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I also re-purposed my old boil kettle and retro fitted that with an electric element and tap from the DIY store as a hot water vessel using Q-Max cutters. In time, I have the fittings for a sight glass and temperature dial.

I’m also looking to start kegging with CO2 in the very near future to improve carbonation of my beer and ease of dispense. The pressure barrel is just too hit and miss with secondary fermentation and I have been finding bottle priming also a lottery at the moment.

 

Beer Festivals

Last year was a good year for beer festivals. I managed to do the Chorlton Beer Festival and IndyManBeerCon.

Last week I also managed to squeeze in the Manchester CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival in (now) Manchester Central (then: G-Mex / Central Station).

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“I’ll start at the breweries at Z and you start at A, and we’ll meet in the middle”

 

 

I think I may kick off the new blogging round with a brief review of the MBCF17 festival.

 

Chorlton Homebrewers Group

Also on the home brewing front – the Chorlton Homebrewers group meetings on the First Tuesday in the month have been a great help in trying new styles, learning a lot from others and how they go about things.

There have been some great beers to try – particularly things that are a bit outside of my comfort zone (sours, wood aging, etc.) and there is always a new angle to discuss on brewing beer

 

Let’s have a heated Twitter debate

Twitter has been a great source of debate and in raising the profile for beer in the last 12 months.

It’s also directed me to some excellent beer related content such as blogs and podcasts and I think it might be worth a write up of what I enjoy listening to and reading what others create.

 

 

All in all it’s been quite a year and hopefully, if I can get round to posting about it, this next year will be even better.

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Hops Update

Well, the Hops have come on since the last post:

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They have climbed the height of the upright, and with a little coaxing they are starting to go across the coir to the other support.

We even have what look to be a few side shoots, which I think are the fruiting spurs for the cones:

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There has been plenty of sun and rain so even though it has only been the first year – there is some really good growth.

Just need to keep an eye on things and there may be a Green/Fresh Hop brew in store this year after all.

Hops growing update

Oh dear…  mixed results on the hops growing front at the allotment. The First Gold / Prima Donna has rotted! 

We had a wet couple of weeks and I may have planted it a bit deep which probably allowed it to rot.

I dug the grown up and some of the thicker roots seemed ok so I cut them into 2-3 inch lengths and planted them very shallow horizontally. One or two seem to have new white roots starting on them (no, I couldn’t help digging them up again!) so we might have something to show for it.

Otherwise, the Hallertauer is going great!

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Plenty of bines growing and it seems to have really taken off. 

Can’t wait to see how it goes.