Archive for October, 2017

Hop Selection: Choosing the Very Best Hops

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not Christmas, Hop Selection Season! The location: Washington state’s beautiful Yakima Valley. We sent Brewhouse Manager Karl Schmitz and Lead Brewer Mike “The Golden One” Gold on their second-annual trip to hand-select the hops we use in Third Street Brewhouse beers.

Last year was educational. This year, Karl and Mike arrived with a strategy and a better idea of what to look for this year. The number one priority: consistency. It is essential to keep pace with the precedent we’ve set for the Third Street Brewhouse brand – so this year’s hop selection had to be on-point.

The bulk of the hops we use in our beers throughout the year are purchased from Yakima Valley suppliers like Hopsteiner and John I. Haas, Inc. That’s why we sent Karl and Mike out to visit the suppliers and make their selections. Once the decisions are made, we can purchase the hops we want throughout the year as needed.

The actual hop selection ensures we can continue to make the same beers consistently and accurately. It gives us the opportunity to match a new year’s crop with what we used last year. That way, our beers keep a consistent flavor between batches. The Hop Lift you had last fall will taste like the one you have in your fridge right now.

This year, Karl and Mike selected Ekuanot, Glacier, Mosaic, Denali and Bravo hops. For more on the selection process, check out our blog post: Choosing the Perfect Hops.

A Hop’s Life

Hops are grown and harvested once each year. Growers plant the hops each spring when the soil is still cool. As they grow, they’re strung onto wires to encourage vertical growth. Hops need consistent watering, but not too much. It is essential to let the ground dry fully between watering. This prevents mildew from forming. Nobody wants to drink mildew.

Around the summer solstice, as the nights begin to get longer, the cone-shaped burrs begin to form. The hops will continue to bloom and ripen well into August. For many hop varieties, harvest begins in September. Some early crops may be ready in mid-August, and late crops are ready by late-September. The harvest, in general, lasts about six weeks in the Yakima Valley.

After the burrs have been harvested, they are baked in a kiln, low and slow over 8-12 hours, until they are nice and dry. The baked hops are then allowed to cool before being shipped to suppliers for processing.

Suppliers often process the hops into pellets, which are then frozen. Brewers can purchase the frozen, pelletized hops year-round to create the delicious, aromatic brews we know and love.

Experimental Hops

A lot of the experience in Yakima is learning about new varieties of hops. Karl discovered Denali hops last year, which was the first year it was produced commercially. He got to taste some beers brewed with Denali hops, and brought home samples from suppliers. The crew at Third Street Brewhouse liked Denali and knew we wanted to use it somehow.

When we were formulating Sanity Break, we knew Denali hops would be an excellent complement to the Mosaic hops we were already planning to use. The blend turned out incredibly well. Sanity Break is an incredibly balanced session IPA that is full of hoppy flavor without the high ABV.

Now that Denali hops are commercially available, Karl and Mike got to select the hops. They chose the specific lot that best matched Sanity Break this year.

Karl and Mike got a sneak peek of a few experimental hops. These hops don’t even have names yet. One variety had a lemon-pear aroma that immediately got Karl thinking of a hefeweisen or a pilsner. They brought some samples back and can hardly wait to have our brewers get their hands on it. There’s definitely some inspiration to be had with this one, and we’re excited to sample the results.

To the Year Ahead

We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us in the coming year. We’ve got beer to brew and opportunities to experiment with new hops. Until next year, Yakima.

Cold Spring Brewing Co. and Third Street Brewhouse Announce Second Beer in Historic Beer Series, Cold Spring Pilsner – Available Now

COLD SPRING, MN – Cold Spring Brewing Co. (CSBC) and Third Street Brewhouse are excited to announce the release of Cold Spring Pilsner, the second beer in the company’s Historic Beer Series. This beer is a dry-hopped pilsner brewed with Cascade hops This beer honors Michael Sargl, the brewmaster who founded CSBC, and can be found in stores and on tap beginning October 1, 2017. The first Historic Beer was Brewer’s Tears released in June 2017 and Kegle Brau will be released in February 2018.

“The original Cold Spring Pilsner was an innovative brew. It was very ahead of its time,” said Karl Schmitz, Brewhouse Manager. “Our recreation is a tribute to the long history of our brewery and Brewmaster Sargl, who pioneered it all. He brought German beer to Minnesota.”

In 1874, German immigrant Michael Sargl came upon “Pure Spring Waters” and opened Cold Spring Brewery to bring a piece of the old country to his new home. Sargl longed to brew beer like he did back in Germany and made do with brewing outside in a kettle near the spring.

Nearly 100 years later, CSBC became famous for an export style pilsner that would have made Sargl proud. This brew was dry-hopped, making it truly unique. In the 1970s, not many brewers were experimenting with the dry-hopping process. The brewers at CSBC were known for this style of brewing, which speaks volumes of their innovation and forward-thinking.

Dry-hopping is a brewing technique typically seen in modern IPAs and pale ales. The process involves adding additional hops after fermentation is complete. Because the additional hops are steeped rather than boiled, the dry-hopping process allows beer to take on more intense hop aroma and flavor without increasing bitterness.

Cold Spring Pilsner is a rich, golden color of traditional pilsners as well as has bright, hoppy aromas and flavors. Bringing this historical brew to market is a testament to CSBC’s innovation and ability to stand the test of time.

Find Cold Spring Pilsner near you today!
Click on the Pilsner box to use the Beer Locator.

The first beer in CSBC’s Historic Beer Series was Brewer’s Tears, a pre-prohibition lager brewed from a hand-written recipe, found deep in CSBC’s archives. When prohibition was enacted, CSBC was forced to pause production and dispose of all alcohol. Brewery owners stood by stoically watching this tragedy. Brewmaster Hermanutz walked away with a tear in his eye – hence the name, Brewer’s Tears. The surviving Hermanutz family were excited and proud to honor their grandfather’s history with the recreation of this historical brew, receiving the first cases of this release at the release party in June 2017.

CSBC plans to release the third and final beer in the Historic Beer Series with a celebration in early 2018.

Look for Cold Spring Pilsner and other Third Street Brewhouse brews at a local retailer near you. Cold Spring Pilsner will be available in 12-pack, 12oz cans beginning October 1, 2017.

Cold Spring Pilsner will also be on tap at the Third Street Brewhouse Taproom, which is open on Fridays from 4-8pm and Saturdays from 12-5pm.