Fresh off the vine, in from the field and even snatched from corners in the brewery, Indiana-sourced hops, malt and yeast are joining water — the Hoosier craft beer ingredient that’s always been local — for a bout of Bicentnenni-Ale special brews along with the regular fresh-from-the-vine hops-infused beers that have been taking fall seasonals beyond pumpkin.
Indiana craft brewers are reporting a banner year of partnerships with hops farmers along with special-ordering grains from Sugar Creek Malt and partnering with Wild Pitch Yeast.
Enthusiasm is running high with hops farmers as they bring in their 2016 harvest. Admittedly, Indiana is a wee player with about a total of 25 acres spread across some two dozen hops growers. Compared with the state of Washington's hops yield from 32,205 acres, we’ve got room to grow.
Since about 2013 it’s been a learning curve. Knowing how and what to plant is just the beginning of a mission that might seem impossible given our climate, penchant for storms and other crop damaging aspects. At The Indiana State Fair Beer, Wine & Spirits 2016 Exhibition Ryan Hammer, co-founder of Crazy Horse Hops at Three Hammers Farms, offered an impromptu tutorial on the optimum time to harvest. “It’s just knowing when the hops cones aren’t too moist or verging toward too dry.” and then it’s picking off the tiny cones for as long as it takes to obtain optimum quality.
K. C. Lewis at Indy High Bines reports his successful crop has, “several brews in line this year that we are excited about. Evil Czech Brewery buys the majority of our yield. We are in a year round beer with them called Tulip Tree IPA. It is an all Indiana beer [also part of the 2016 Indiana State Fair Bicentenni-Ale line-up] that uses our Columbus pellets and locally-sourced malt from Sugar Creek Malt.”
Lewis adds, “We are delivering ECB an additional 350 pounds of Cascade pellets this year that we are sure will end up in a fantastic brew.”
“Tulip Tree is Evil Czech Brewery’s year round session IPA,” emailed Simon O’Keefe. “It’s brewed with grains malted by Sugar Creek Malt. We use 97% pale ale malt and source 3% oats from a neighboring state. We use 100% Columbus hops grown by Indy High Bines. After the coming harvest we will start to introduce their Cascade into the brew.
“It’s very important for us to support local agriculture, as the brewing industry and farming have always been very closely related, and it's also important to us that people realize that you don't need to import hops from the Pacific North West to make a great IPA,” concludes O’Keefe.
Tulip Tree IPA is described as an all-Indiana ingredient IPA featuring “a light body with rich malt flavors to balance the crisp bitterness and piney and earthy aromas of the hops.”
Along with his fondness for Tulip Tree, Lewis also reports, “Mashcraft’s High P. A. is simply amazing.
“We took Cascades, dried and hammer-milled them, and put them into Andrew Castner’s kettle within 48 hours. We will continuously wet hop the beer until our harvest is complete.
“There will be four varieties of hops from our field: dried Cascade, wet whole cone Columbus, wet whole cone Southern Cross, and wet whole cone Cashmere.”
Castner adds, “Our High P.A. is completely focused on the Indy High Bines hops. This year's edition isn't an all-Indiana-grown beer, but 99% of the flavor profile will be the Cascade, Columbus, and Cashmere grown by IHB. [This beer was released September 13.]
“People should hurry in because the big fruity and herbal punch from these hops will make this beer sell quick. Tell them to keep an eye on our social media @mashcraftbrews
for more updates,” he advises.
“We’re joining forces with Taxman to brew the second version of a wet hopped saison with them,” added Lewis. “This beer will include dry pelletized Columbus and wet whole cone Southern Cross.”
October 2016 Taxman is releasing Harvest. It first appeared in 2015 as “the state’s first saison produced with all-Indiana ingredients: malted barley from Sugar Creek Malt (Lebanon, IN) provides a smooth amber body, and wet hops harvested fresh at Indy High Bines (Indianapolis IN) contribute mild bitterness and spicy citrus notes. Sparkling dryness from clover honey from Hunter’s Honey Farm (Martinsville, IN) is complemented by fruity esters of our signature house yeast blend, resulting in a refreshing, clean Belgian-style harvest ale that hails from the Hoosier state,” reports Taxman.
Pokro Brewing Company created Angus British Strong Ale with whole leaf fuggle hops from Cone Keepers Hop Yard in DeMotte. This beer took top honors at the Indiana State Fair Beer, Wine & Spirits 2016 Exhibit.
Triton Indiana Un-Common Bicentenni-Ale is Triton’s take on the California Common style, “brewed in honor of Indiana’s Bicentennial and the Centennial of the Indiana State Parks with locally sourced ingredients like Yee Olde Pale Malt from Sugar Creek Malt Co.” according to their email report.
At harvest time, Triton will be brewing the Wet Hop Harvest Rail, a Rail Splitter IPA, “dry-hopped with the Centennial Hops we grow at Triton Brewing. This will be the third year we have brewed this beer.”
Jesse Sensenig, owner and brewer at Goshen Brewing Co. reported, “We used Sugar Creek Malt for 1816, minus a bit of caramel malt from Briess. We used Crazy Horse hops (Nugget and CTZ) solely for 1816 as well. It is an English Pale Ale, 6.6%, which is a nice balance to showcase the malt and hops from within the state! You can currently get this beer in our brewpub and at Maplecrest Country Club in Goshen. We just brewed a fresh hopped beer with wet Cascade hops from Hootenanny Farms out of Plymouth. We harvested them and brewed with them in just a handful of hours!
“We also have a beer called Socialite, which is a cherry saison kettle sour with all Michigan cherries and malt from Pilot Malt House, Michigan. We use local maple syrup, peaches, and other ingredients throughout the year as well. We also have many beers with Hop Head Farms hops from Michigan.”
Matthew L. Bochman reports Wild Pitch Yeast “is working with Function Brewing owner/brewer Steve Llewellyn for their Bicentenni-ale.”
“Steve was able to luck into some fresh, locally grown hops, so he decided to brew a harvest ale using the fresh hops, Indiana malt (was it two-row barley from Sugar Creek Malt, Steve?), and an American ale-style strain from Wild Pitch Yeast. I choose a strain of wild Saccharomyces cerevisiae that was isolated in Indianapolis (strain YH200), attenuates well, has a neutral aroma and taste profile, and produces a more rounded mouthfeel than some of our other wild S. cerevisiaestrains. As a harvest ale, the hops are going to be the star of this beer, so Steve wanted a yeast that would perform but not produce any strong or conflicting sensory notes of its own.”
“The upcoming Bicentenni-Ale that I'm brewing will be called Root,” emailed Llewellyn. “Root is a local ingredient beer brewed with Yee Olde Pale Ale malt from Sugar Creek, Chinook hops from Spring Creek
“The beer should have a nice spiciness from the Chinook hops, and a bready, toasty note from the malt, along with a slight caramel character from the kettle caramelization performed on brew day.”
Root was tapped in the second week of September at Function in Bloomington.
Waltz Family Farms has been taking pre-orders for fresh whole cone Columbus hops available in 1-pound packages that were harvested and made available on August 27.
From Northwest Indiana, Steve and Jennifer Howe emailed, “At Howe Farms we have found the same wonderful reaction from brewers up here as many of your central Indiana farmers are experiencing. We have been very lucky to have brewers from Four Fathers Brewing in Valparaiso, Route 2 Brews in Lowell, and Crown Brewing in Crown Point supporting our efforts over the past few years and you can find our hops in their beers year round.
“These wonderful men and women not only support local through buying our hops, but have become great friends of ours. The community involvement they immerse themselves in and the quality of their products speak for themselves, but the people they are often gets pushed aside. These relationships are the best part of hop farming. As you know, the craft beer community is as welcoming and accepting of an industry as you will ever find, and one that we are proud to not only be a part of, but to raise our kids in as well.
“Cheers to you all and thank you for the interest and support.”
More info on:
Indiana Hop Growers