For this year’s Local Harvest brew, we really changed things up. Instead of doing one big Local Harvest batch like we’ve done in the past, we took advantage of our pilot brewhouses (and proximity to a local farm) and created two very different small batch fresh hop beers.
For both beers we used fresh hops, of course – but when we say fresh, we mean FRESH. The hops came from The Hop Yard’s main farm in Gorham; Hamblen Harm, a seventh generation family farm, is about two miles from the Sebago brewery, as the crow flies.
Once the hops were picked, Brewmaster Tom Abercrombie was hoping to do something fun like float them down the river in kayaks to the brewery…but we couldn’t find water access behind the brewery. Tom brought some of them in the trunk of his car and was really surprised when Ryan Houghton from The Hop Yard delivered the rest of the hops to the brewery by tractor.
After we got the freshly picked hops to the brewery, our brewers froze the wet hops with liquid nitrogen using our Nitrodoser and then smashed them by hand, the first time we’ve tried this technique. As Head Brewer Peter Dahlen explains in our Instagram video, when we “bust ’em all up” the fresh hops mix better with the hot wort, resulting in more flavor.
This year’s “traditional” Local Harvest beer showcases Nugget and Cascade hops. A hot steep in the mash tun with the smashed hops yields one of the boldest fresh hop batches we have made to date.
On the Grind is a tart wheat ale with a unique twist on our more traditional fresh hop approach. We used Sterling and Cascade wet hops (frozen and smashed) and Maine-grown wheat and malt. We soured half the batch in the kettle overnight and then blended it with a standard mash (with Sterling dry hops, also from The Hop Yard) to complete the beer.
Ready to taste some fresh hop beers with a distinctive flavor and sweetness? Come by our Tasting Room to try Local Harvest and On the Grind before they’re gone. (You can always check our brewboard to see all the small batch, guest beers, and Sebago favorites on tap.)