So I Get Home From Work…

On October 2, 2009, in Homebrewing, Recipes, by Mark Ranes


Hmmmm?  What's this?

Hmmmm? What's this?


…and on the porch is this white, unassuming package.  My daughter said she had a delivery coming, so I assumed that it was her package.  But no, it was a package from Hop Union!  Here’s the back story…

Back in June, Stephen and I went to the 2009 National Homebrewers Conference in Oakland.  I attended a session called Commercial Hop Production and Sales and Its Effect on Homebrewers with Ralph Olson, of Hop Union, since I have an intense interest and love for hops.  I had the opportunity to ask Ralph a question during the Q&A part toward the end of the session.  I asked what was new in the hop world – basically what was coming down the pike that I should be looking out for.  Ralph said to look out for a new high alpha hop called Citra.  He said that Citras were not widely available last year, but were being used by Sierra Nevada in their new release, Torpedo Extra IPA.


It smells good!  Still very mysterious...

It smells good! Still very mysterious...


When  got home from NHC, I e-mailed Ralph a couple weeks after the conference and asked him if he could somehow hook me up with some Citra hops.  He said to get in touch with him around harvest time in September.  Well, it’s harvest time!  Last week I again contacted Ralph and asked about the Citras.  He promptly responded and asked his folks to send me half a brewer’s cut of Citra hops.  I instantly hit Google to find out what a brewer’s cut is and discovered that it is a rectangular  15 x 10 x 10 cm sample from a hop bale, wrapped in stiff, light-proof paper, held together by a pin.  “These samples are cut from the sides of representative bales using a sharp knife and a special pair of hinged tongs, which grips the sample on the pressed sides of the cones and enables the sample to be withdrawn without breaking apart.”  Ooooh!  Now this sounds intriguing!


Yup!  It's a brewer's cut!

Yup! It's a brewer's cut!


Flash forward to today…

I opened the package and was instantly hit with the familiar aroma of fresh citrusy, piney hops!  Woohoo!

I’ll be checking out the properties of the Citra hops by using them in my standard single hop recipe where the malt bill is always the same, and only a single hop is used.  This really lets me focus on what any particular hop brings to a ale.  I’m hoping to brew this ale next weekend.  I’ve been waiting on twelve pounds of 2009 new crpp hops (Centennials, Cascades, Columbus, Magnums, Goldings, Northern Brewers, Simcoes) to arrive, so I didn’t get a starter ready for this weekend.  I guess I could have brewed:)  I do need to make a B3 run soon to get some bulk base grains, but I may brew twice next weekend to get ready for the holiday season if I have enough base malt.


Brick of Citra hops!

Brick of Citra hops!


Now don’t you all go hitting up Ralph for free samples!  This whole thing came out of his very informative and interesting session at NHC, and I didn’t see all of you there!  But I have to say, Ralph swims with the sharks of the brewing industry.  I’m but a plankton floating in the sea of homebrewers!  For him to set me up with this sample of Citra hops is waaaay more than he had to do.  Jeez – I was just a guy sitting in a conference audience, asking a question!  But from what I’ve seen over the last few years, and particularly relating my experiences at this year’s NHC, this is typical of the type of quality folks you find in the brewing industry.  Even the Ralph Olsons, the Sam Calagiones, the Ken Grossmans, the Charlie Papazians, the Vinny Cilurzos, and on and on, show respect and appreciation for us little guy homebrewers.  They don’t need to, but they do:)


Ralph Olsen at NHC

Ralph Olson at NHC


Simply put, Ralph – you da man! I owe you an ale or two when I get up your way:)

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