The Return of the Rain — 100% Homegrown Fresh Hop Ale

Hops 2015 02

Return of the Rain 03Thus far, it has been the most productive year for my homegrown Centennial and Willamette hops.  The bines grew up to the second floor window and then I trained them to move outwards horizontally, yielding 2.77 pounds total.  I was able to make my first 100% fresh hop ale using all of these hops in a single brew.  Since I brewed it during the week that saw the most precipitation in Seattle since April, I decided to call it The Return of The Rain Fresh Hop Ale.

Fresh Hops Second 03If this recipe had been brewed with regular hop pellets or whole leaf hops, it would have resulted in an extremely bitter (probably unpleasantly so) IPA.  I contemplated using prepared hops for my bittering addition as some brewers do to save the fresh hops for the latter flavor and aroma additions, but I had enough space in my kettle (and enough hops in general) to double up my usual bittering amount — so I opted to use all fresh hops.  The resulting beer is hop forward with a restrained bitterness and a decidedly dry finish.

Hops 2015 01When the beer was young it had a very interesting and not unpleasant umami-like note reminiscent of roasted peanuts; after conditioning in the keg for three weeks this “green” note transitioned into the more immediately recognizable herbal/spicy characteristics associated with Willamette hops.  This beer also displays incredible clarity akin to that of a lager (I couldn’t quite capture this in the photo above due to the condensation on the glass).  Though I like this beer, I’ll probably use packaged hops for the bittering and dry-hop additions in my next fresh hop ale.  See the recipe and tasting notes below:

The Return of the Rain Fresh Hop Ale

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.80
Anticipated OG: 1.054
Anticipated SRM: 3.0
Anticipated IBU: N/A
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes


61.22% — 6.00 Lbs. US 2-Row
15.31% — 1.50 Lbs. Golden Promise
10.20% — 1.00 Lbs. Carapils
10.20% — 1.00 Lbs. Rye Malt
03.06% — 0.30 Lbs. Acidulated Malt


2.00 oz. Centennial (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz. Centennial (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 45 min.
1.00 oz. Centennial (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 30 min.
3.00 oz. Centennial (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 15 min.
6.00 oz. Centennial (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 10 min.
9.00 oz. Centennial (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 5 min.
4.00 oz. Willamette (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 5 min.
7.00 oz. Centennial (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 0 min.
4.00 oz. Willamette (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 0 min.
4.00 oz. Centennial (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 5 days (dry-hop).
3.40 oz. Willamette (Fresh, N/A AA) @ 5 days (dry-hop).


1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min.


Whitelabs WLP051 – California V Ale Yeast

Water Profile

1.00 g Calcium Chloride
1.50 g Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 100 min @ 152F


08.29.15 — Made a 1L starter with 1 Whitelabs WLP051 vial.  Brewtoad suggests 187 billion cells to ferment 5.0 gal.  Cold crashed and decanted morning of brew day.

Brewed on 08.31.15

08.31.15 — Chilled wort to 65F and pitched the California V Ale yeast

09.02.15 — Signs of vigorous fermentation activity

09.07.15 — Transferred into secondary after 7 day primary fermentation, added the dry-hop additions which were also fresh hops kept cold and covered in the refrigerator since picking them on the morning of 08.31.15

09.12.15 — Kegged the beer and began force carbonating

Return of the Rain 04Tasting Notes — 10. 20.15 (poured off tap)

As stated, this beer is crystal clear now that it has had time to condition in the keg.  Big herbal/spicy notes on the nose reminiscent of forest, earth and flowers with just a hint of that earthy peanut-like aroma.  The palate follows the nose but the Centennials offer some hints of citrusy lemon pith and a firm but round bitterness akin to, but not exactly like, chewing on pine needles and Nasturtium flower petals.  There are also some grassy notes on the back end.   Quick, refreshing finish that ends dry.

Calculated OG: 1.044
Calculated FG: 1.007
Approx. ABV: 4.8%


Barrel Project #02 — Flanders Style Red

Flanders BatchesJust about a year after it was brewed, our Westland Distillery whiskey barrel aged Flanders Style Red has been removed from the barrel and is tasting wonderful.  This project saw four brewers collaborating on the recipe and brewing approximately fifteen gallons of beer each; we then blended them all into the barrel, souring it with White Labs Flemish Ale Blend WLP665, Wyeast Roeselare Blend 3763, and select bottle dregs from our favorite unpasteurized commercial sours.  We decided to do a couple of batches with a Belgian yeast strain and I included White Labs California V WLP051 in two of my batches.

Before this beer, we did a clean stout in the barrel (see Merry Christmas, It’s Endless Stout) to knock down the whiskey flavors from the freshly dumped barrel.  It worked well as there is now a pleasant hint of whiskey on the nose and far in the background on the palate of the red, lending some subtle nuance and depth.

Gregory and I have two kegs going of the straight Flanders Style Red and plan to put the remainder of our share onto different fruits, spices, and hops.  We’ll bottle condition some of these and keg the rest and I will make a new post detailing the variants as they happen.  I also saved some of the non-barrel aged portion of this sour and blended it with a funky pale ale that I will discuss in a forthcoming post.

This beer turned out great and I am very proud of it!

Flanders BarrelBarrel Project #02 — Flanders

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 15.75
Anticipated OG: 1.076
Anticipated SRM: 16.0
Anticipated IBU: 10.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes


57% – 9.00 Lbs. US Vienna
19% – 3.00 Lbs. Pilsner
06% – 1.00 Lbs. Flaked Oats
04% — 0.75 Lbs. Special B
04% — 0.75 Lbs. CaraMunich
04% — 0.75 Lbs. Aromatic
03% — 0.50 Lbs. White Wheat


0.40 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 13.0% AA) @ 30 min.


1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.


White Labs WLP051 – California V Ale Yeast
White Labs WLP665 – Flemish Ale Blend
Wyeast 3763 – Roeselare Blend
Bottle Dregs

Water Profile

0.20 tsp Calcium Chloride
0.30 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 60 min @ 154F


06.10.14 — Made a 1L starter with 1 White Labs WLP051 California V Ale vial.  Brewtoad suggests 285 billion cells to ferment 5.5 gal.  Cold crashed and decanted morning of brew day.

Brewed on 06.12.14 / 06.13.14 / 06.26.14

06.12.14 — Chilled wort to 60F and pitched the California V Ale Yeast and the Flemish Ale Blend

06.15.14 — Signs of fermentation activity

06.26.14 / 06.27.14 / 07.10.14 — Transferred batches to secondary after two week primaries each

07.21.14 — Transferred everyone’s batches to the barrel

06.08.15 — Transferred beer to kegs and carboys for further experimentation

7.07.16 — Added 6 Lbs. Red Cherries to Flanders #1 (Whiskey Barrel Aged Flanders Style Red with Cherries)

07.31.16 — Added 13 Lbs. hand foraged Blackberries to Flanders #2 (Second blackberry version — see Wild Blackberry Sour Ale for the first)

08.30.16 — Kegged Cherry Flanders — FG: 1.000 / 9.99%

 08.30.16 — Added 1 gal. Cherry Flanders to #2 and kegged sometime in October ’16
 Tasting Notes (Regular Version, bottle pour)

Along with the mild whiskey character, this beer exhibits the classic fruity Flanders Red notes of black cherry and orange with some mild vanilla peaking through.  Firm lactic sourness with just the right amount of acetic acid to balance, reminiscent of balsamic vinegar.  Very slight brettanomyces funk on the nose.  Beautiful red-brown color and clarity.

Calculated OG: 1.080
Calculated FG: 1.020
Approx. ABV: 7.9%

Calculated OG: 1.076
Calculated FG: 1.020
Approx. ABV: 7.3%

Calculated OG: 1.072
Calculated FG: 1.020
Approx. ABV: 6.8%