When I learned two breweries in Hawaii, on different islands, were both brewing a fresh hop beer I thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if they would swap kegs and serve each beer side by side?” Well after a couple emails, Kauai Beer Company head brewer Justin Guerber and Honolulu Beerworks brewer Geoff Seideman figured out the logistics and made it happen.
Hawaii poses a unique problem for craft beer fans when they want to try another breweries beers. That damn ocean gets in the way, which makes it very difficult to pop over to another island to visit another brewery and pick up their beers. For residents on both Kauai and Oahu this keg swap is a nice treat since neither brewery distributes to the other island. This is the first time each brewery’s beers will be available on another island (aside from beer festivals.)
Both breweries decided to take advantage of the available fresh hop harvest and have hops over night shipped to Hawaii. Needless to say, this isn’t cheap, but it’s the only way to insure the freshly harvested hops get to the brewery before they start to go bad. A few people had asked on Facebook if the hops have to go through agricultural inspection and the answer is yes, the boxes were inspected.
Although both beers use fresh hops, they are very different beers. Kauai Beer Company brewed a sessionable 4.8% pale ale with 20 pounds of whole Cascade hops from Van Horn Farms in Washington. The majority of the bittering IBUs came from Columbus hops and the fresh hops were used strictly for aroma. Guerber explains, “We’ve never done a wet hop before, so it was exciting to plan out how to do it. We ended up using our mash tun/lauter tun as a hop back. So post whirlpool, we pumped the wort into the mash tun (with the false bottom in place), added the fresh hops, and let it steep for about 5 minutes. We then pumped out through our heat exchanger as we normally would. All told it sat on the fresh hops for about an hour including pumping in and out.”
Honolulu Beerworks used a very similar process, but brewed a 6.6% amber colored IPA packed with 80 pounds of Mosaic hops from Loftus Ranch in Washington. This was the first fresh hop brew for the brewers at Honolulu Beerworks and they also decided to use the fresh Mosaic hops primarily for aroma. Similar to Kauai Beer, the mash tun was loaded with 50 pounds of hops and another 30 pounds were added to the end of the boil to whirlpool in the wort. The wort was then pumped through the mash tun which acted as a giant hop back.
Both beers are single brews, meaning once they are gone, they are gone. Since hops are only harvested once a year in the northern hemisphere, don’t expect to see a fresh hop beer again until this time next year. Only one keg from each brewery will be available so don’t wait to go try some. It’s exciting to see our local breweries get together, share some beer and allow all of us to try something that we probably wouldn’t have been able to unless we hopped on a plane for a day.
Honolulu Beerworks Batch 58 Fresh Hop IPA is now on tap at Kauai Beer Company in Lihue. Oahu residents can expect to see Kauai Beer Company’s Wet Hop Pale Ale on tap at Honolulu Beerworks within the next week or so.