Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries: everyone has their favorite U-pick treat. However, Van Burnette of the Hop’n Blueberry Farm wants folks in the Asheville area to remember there is another crop in season: hops. “Last year we had 6-1/2 feet of rain, it was a bad year for downy mildew, and we had root problems,” says Burnett. “But this year has been our best year yet. I’m up to about 1-1/4 pounds per bine, which is above average [around here].”
The farm, which has been growing hops varieties like Cascade and Chinook for eight years, will throw a hops harvest party to celebrate. Burnett and the rest of the staff at the farm invites anyone interested to come out and mingle among the hops bines 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23 for live music and special beers from Lookout and Hi-Wire — made with hops straight from the farm, of course.
Lookout’s owner and brewer, John Garcia, crafted a spin his house pale ale with the fresh hops — referred to in the industry as “wet hops” since they are not dried and processed like normal brewing hops. “I think wet-hopped beer is the best style of beer out there. It’s the freshest-possible beer you could get,” says Garcia.
“Normally you get hops the same year they were grown, but they could be up to a year old, and they’re processed [to stay fresh]. … With fresh hops, generally, you’re getting hops fresh off the bine within 12 hours or less. It’s like the difference between banana chips and bananas. Banana chips aren’t bad, but you can’t beat a fresh banana,” says Garcia.
Hi-Wire head brewer Luke Holgate also thinks fresh-hops beers have unique properties, which is why he used 15 pounds of them in a big, aromatic double IPA. “While they are reminiscent of the typical varieties we use, wet hops also impart more ‘green’ flavors,” says Holgate. “Many of the more volatile hop oils that are lost to the kilning process in dried hops are still present and able to be extracted into the beer with wet hops. …. [It] puts a whole new twist on the flavor and aroma.”
If you can’t make the party, where samples of both beers will be available, the beers will both be released at the respective breweries as well. Hi-Wire’s will come out on Wednesday, Aug. 20, and Lookout’s will debut on Saturday, Aug. 23. Both will be available only at the festival and the taprooms. The Hop’n Blueberry Farm will also be open for U-pick after 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, and all day Thursday, Aug. 21, and Friday, Aug. 22. The party on Aug. 23 is $12 in advance or $15 the day of the event. For more information, call 664-1166 or visit hopnblueberryfarm.com.
Beer Fit for a Sister
If you’ve ever ridden the LaZoom bus, chances are you’ve met Sister Bad Habit. She often boards the bus and yells at anyone drinking beer. However, her hypocrisy is exposed when riders catch her later in the tour sitting outside at Thirsty Monk sipping a big pint of beer on the porch.
Well, one of Asheville’s most colorful characters finally has her own beer. Asheville Brewing Co. brewers Doug Riley and Pete Langheinrich teamed up with Thirsty Monk’s Norm Penn to brainstorm a recipe. The goal, says Langheinrich, was a tough one. They want to eventually can the beer so it can be taken on the LaZoom tour. That means tourists who may or may not know anything about craft beer could be drinking Badhabit Brown as their first Asheville offering. A big bitter IPA was out of the question.
The team settled on a complex amber ale, hopped lightly with some tropical New Zealand hops like Galaxy. “These hops give fruit flavors and aromas of peach, passion fruit, mangoes and oranges that have melded really nicely with the sweetness of the malts in this beer,” says Langheinrich. Look for the beer at both ABC locations soon and expect a larger rollout later in fall.
Highland and French Broad Go German
Another collaboration is headed our way this week as Highland’s 20 Beers for 20 Years series continues to roll. Beer No. 11’s release is a team effort with French Broad Brewery’s Andy Dahm. Dahm, who also owns and runs Asheville Brewer’s Supply, has a German heritage. His family emigrated from Kiel, Germany, in the 1700s and provided the inspiration for the collaboration. The beer itself, also named Kiel, is a German-style lager with German malt and hops. According to Highland communications director Drew Stevenson, it’s a light-bodied and golden lager with a grassy, clean hops presence. The beer will be released on Friday, Aug. 22, at the brewery. Afterward, it will be available on draft at the brewery and through select accounts in WNC for a limited time.