Brewing my first Wet Hop Ale

Kris: One of my favourite things to do this time of year is to take a drive out through Bushy Park, on the way to Mt Field National Park. It is approximately 40 minutes from Hobart and is definitely a must visit for beer lovers. The historic town has some great old Oast Houses (used to dry hops in the past) and is the largest hop producing area in Australia.(Above is a view of the hop fields in Bushy Park)

Kris: On a recent drive through the hop fields, I discovered some hop plants growing on a fence on the side of the road. I waited about 6 weeks and returned to pick some hops to brew my first all mash Wet Hop Ale. I am not sure what varietal of hops they are, but they are quite floral and citrusy. I can’t wait to see how my brew turns out.

Kris: I used some pale malt, malted wheat, cara-malt and crystal malt. I wanted to brew a beer with some subtle sweetness and with a nice red/brown colour to balance out the huge hop additions. It is looking like it will be around 6% ABV. After ferment I will rack the beer off into a clean fermenter and wet hop it for 7-10 days with the hops I picked in  Bushy Park.

Kris: This is my 3rd all mash brew and I am thinking I will have to build a gravity fed brew system soon. My brew house is a bit old school but it gets the job done. The vessel above is my Hot Liquor Tank, as well as the Kettle. I use a 3 ring cast iron burner and an old Power’s Bitter keg with a holw cut in the top.

Kris: The blue cooler is the mash tun. It is a drink cooler with a false bottom in it. I heat the water to 65-67 C and then combine this with the milled grain. The insulated mash tun holds the heat for an hour and then I drain off the wort into the kettle before an hour boil.

Kris : I used some Tasmanian grown galaxy hop pellets as the bittering hop addition and then two bags of the fresh hop flowers at 15 minutes and at the flame out.

Above: Adding the fresh hop flowers to the boil.

Kris: My Wet Hop Ale is busy fermenting, so now it’s time to play the waiting game. If all goes to plan I will be drinking a super hoppy Pale Ale in a few weeks time.

Smoked Kangaroo and Persian Fetta matched with Kooinda Pale Ale

Kris: I have always thoroughly enjoyed the cheese from Yarra Valley Dairy . I found some of their amazing Persian fetta at the Queen Victoria Markets, as well as some smoked kangaroo. I also grabbed a Kooinda Pale Ale, a favourite Victorian beer of mine and one that I thought would go really well with the marinated cheese and the kangaroo.

Kris: The smoked kangaroo, marinated fetta and Kooinda pale ale were a beautiful unity of flavours. The fruity/malty character and hop bitterness of the beer balanced the creaminess of the cheese and the smoky/sweet flavours of the kangaroo. A great entree to a bout of Jenga.

Caroline: The Fetta and Roo were really just fuel to get us through the Jenga championship round. It’s very serious, as you can see.

Caroline: As Jenga stakes rose, it was time to up the anti beer wise as well. An epic game needs an epic beer, Stone Vertical Epic from San Diego  11-11-11 to be exact.

Kris: I must say a massive thanks to Mike C for bringing this beer all the way back from San Diego to share with us all during our last visit to Melbourne. It truly was a treat. I did actually get to try last years release in 2010 whilst in the U.S., so it was great to be able to compare the two. It is a yearly release from one of the world’s greatest breweries and is definitely one for sharing with good friends. It is a 9.4 % Belgian Strong Pale Ale, brewed with a belgian yeast, a big mash up of hops and chili’s. I wish we had another couple to taste over the next couple of years. Sweet malt and yeast character matched with some piney/fruity hops and a nice touch of pepper/cinnamon and clove flavours.

Caroline: The pressure was almost unbearable; palms sweating, hearts pounding, snacks diminishing, and beer warming. This round separated the amateurs from the pros, and as you can see, not everyone could handle it.

(By the way, I never toppled the tower)

Kris: Subtle Caroline.

Caroline: What? did someone say something?

Kris: Yes. You’re very good at Jenga.

Caroline: just sayin…

Kris: You forgot I didn’t lose a round either!