Every beer within 's portfolio, though brewed using a different recipe, possesses hops, a necessary ingredient providing bitterness to balance malt profiles, desirable aromas, and quality preservation. Only one beer, however, was brewed with wet, Long Island-grown hops from Condzella's Farm's first harvest in early-August: Fresh Hop Ale.
Port Jeff Brewing Company brewed two batches of Fresh Hop Ale, a sweet and earthy pale ale containing the Wading River-based farm's initial hops crop, on August 10 and 13. Each 950-gallon batch possesses 40 pounds of wet Cascade hops, which differ from pelletized, or dried whole-flower hops, and must be used almost immediately (the latter is year-round usable). Port Jeff Brewing Company's bundle were hand-plucked two hours before brewing.
"This is huge for Long Island because until now, local ingredients used by our breweries were basically water and passion," said Michael Philbrick, owner and brewmaster of Port Jeff Brewing Company. "Using hops from Long Island brings local to a new level. People are not only supporting beer, but local agriculture, as well."
Philbrick, who obtains organic wildflower honey from Condzella's Farm (the honey, produced by Manorville's South Paws Farm, is used to brew Port Jeff Porter), maintained contact with John Condzella about his one-acre crop since planting in March 2011. As hop harvest approached – traditionally between mid-August and early-September – Condzella selected a date and informed Philbrick, who created a "basic recipe with crystal and pilsner malts, to put all the attention on the hop."
On August 10, prior to 10 a.m., the hops were plucked by Condzella, secured by Philbrick, and used to brew Fresh Hop Ale.
"You have to use fresh hops right away, when the flower's natural oils and flavors are highest," said Philbrick. "We were ready to brew on the morning they we picked."
Though Philbrick is satisfied with Fresh Hop Ale's approachable profile ("It's a great showcase of a young hop and just really easy to drink," he said), he anticipates evolved flavor characteristics for forthcoming harvests, and subsequently, forthcoming batches.
"It's going to be real interesting to see how the beer tastes next year, as the field is older and more mature," said Philbrick, who plans to use the same recipe for 2013, for comparison. "I'm still really happy for the opportunity to be the first brewer to use Condzella's Farm's hops. It's an honor."
Port Jeff Brewing Company Fresh Hop Ale debuts at the brewery's five-course beer dinner at The Lark Pub & Grub in Northport on August 28.
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