Hops have been a hot topic with us lately. It is after all the season when breweries around the world release their freshly hopped brews on the thirsty masses. With these beers breweries and farms (or homebrewers and their gardens) are moving one step closer to providing a beverage that offers a sense of place. These beers also are a boon to the imbiber not inclined to sip a spiced, sweet beer from a glass rimmed with sugar or caramel syrup. Hops and the harvest season should be celebrated by all beer fans and we here at Beer Loves Company have taken full advantage of this. We have used them in our Amalgam in the Middle cider/beer hybrid, picked them ourselves straight from the bine, hauled them from Condzella Hops to Long Ireland Beer Company for their fresh hop brew day and even had a chance to dry them for (hopefully) later use.
Beating around the bush a little bit you say? Well to that we would reply maybe but if we did not give you a little background how would you be able to appreciate all that went into the recently unleashed Port Jeff Brewing Company Fresh Hop Ale? The answer you would not be able to appreciate it at all and all life would collapse around you meaningless. You’re welcome.
PJBC uses the Long Island grown buds to augment their well established Schooner Ale. When we arrived at the brewery we were about twelve hours or so behind the arrival of the fresh hops themselves. John Condzella of the aptly named Condzella Hops dropped off the fresh hops the night before right from their sorting through the wondrous (and crowd-funded Beer Loves Company + Hops). The batch of beer was already well into it’s mash phase when we arrived and the hops were being added to hop sacks for the dip they would soon be taking. In addition to the fresh hops some of the pellet variety were also added to help balance things out and for the preservative quality they add.
Eventually the time rolled around when the hops were to be added. Head brewer Jeff Noakes added the (very large) quantities of hops to the kettle at designated intervals. He of course was had some excellent help along the way coming from Jamie Patridge, the man responsible for the new and delicious Party Boat IPA and the ever present beer aficionado Anthony Quattrone. We tried to stay out of the way as best we could since along with the fresh hop brew PJBC also was in the process of cleaning kegs, filling kegs and checking all of their fermentation tanks. If that was not enough the tasting room was also open which leads to many patrons staring through the glass into the brewery (where you can feel like a bit of a fish in a tank) as well as some passers by attempting to enter the brewery itself (the reason Jeff affixed a chain to go across the open doorway). Lots going on in a cozy space over in downtown Port Jefferson.
Bringing us up to the present Port Jeff Brewing Company has sent their Fresh Hop Ale out to market and we had the pleasure of picking up a half-growler (or howler as some have begun to call it). We were pleased to be able to taste the efforts of the brewers in the beer as well as a bit of Long Island as well. Having the hops come off of Beer Loves Company + Hops is an added bonus for us and an expression of our belief and support of the local beer and agricultural communities. Shortly we will be presenting an article which details our tasting of several locally produced Fresh Hop beers from Long Ireland Beer Company, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Great South Bay and of course Port Jeff Brewing Company. With the hops coming from Wesnofske Farms, Condzella Hops and Farm to Pint the local vibe and flavor is in each of these brews. It’s harvest season, time to drink some of the Island’s bounty.