With the tremendous response we have had about this year’s batch of Wolf vine, I have been asked to give some insight into the process and ingredients that makes this special beer.
Firstly, I would like to shed some light on the hops, and the choices that surround the hopping of this beer. In previous years, we have used Centennial hops grown and harvested by the Sartori Hop Farm. This year we departed from that approach. We decided to give an even smaller hop farm an opportunity to get a start. Half of the hops we used in this year’s batch are Cascade hops grown and harvested by the Hope Bay Hop Farm on Pender Island. This is only their second year of production (normally hop plants take three years to reach maturity), so their hops were noticeably younger, with a “greener” aroma, than we would normally expect, but we used them anyway! The second half of our hop supply were Centennial hops from the Chilliwack Hop Farm.
Secondly, I would like to mention something about Wet Hops. Much like the variances that occur in the growing of grapes, terroir plays an incredible role in the final outcome. It influences hop aroma, it plays a role in other factors like alpha acids, beta acids, cohumulones, etc. This is really the beauty of a Wet Hopped beer; you never really know exactly how it is going to turn out! For those of you who notice a difference between this year’s batch and last year’s, you are absolutely correct. This is as it should be. This year’s crop of hops was undeniably effected by the long hot dry summer we had, the hops matured quickly and had a slightly more grassy notes to them.
With regards to the process, here is how it works: the farmer determines when the hops are at their peak, and harvests them. On that same day, the hops are brought to the brewery, where we put them into our cold room for an overnight stay. (The cold room smells like hop heaven!) In the morning we mash in, create the sweet wort, boil it for 90 minutes, all as per usual, then we add all the hops (a very considerable pile indeed), back into our sweet wort, circulate it for half an hour or so, extracting all the beautiful hop aroma and flavour, then cool the wort down and pitch the yeast.
This year’s batch has an undeniably stronger hop aroma than previous batches, it borders on grassy with some earthiness (if that is a word?) and a slight spiciness. From the avalanche of tremendous feedback we have received, it seems these flavours and aromas are enjoyable to many of you. For those of you who sense a difference, you are not wrong, and that is the fun of a ‘once-a-year’ beer.
One final note: we very purposefully make our Wet Hopped Beer a Pale Ale, not an IPA. We feel that the fullness of hop flavour, hop aroma, and depth of hop character, does not need to be masked by overwhelming hop bitteness. This of course is only a personal opinion.
I hope you enjoy this year’s Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale, it will only be here for a very short time, and we look forward to the mysteries that next year’s batch will hold!