After months of watering, pruning, and feeding a spindly hop bine, I had about an ounce of dried, whole-cone Cascade hops ready to go into a new beer. Figuring their citrusy flavors would be best used as a dry hop charge, I set out to brew a middle-of-the-road pale ale that would let the fresh hop character shine through.
7.5 lb Maris Otter
.5 lb Carapils/Carafoam
.25 lb Crystal Malt 10°L
.25 lb Crystal Malt 40°L
.5 oz Summit (17.0%) - added first wort, boiled 60 m
.5 oz Summit (17.0%) - added during boil, boiled 5.0 m
1.0 ea White Labs WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast
1 oz Cascade (homegrown cones)
I brewed a few weeks before the estimated hop harvest date so the beer would be ready to go into secondary as soon as the new cones were picked and dried. It was a typical brew day for me: 3 gallon brew-in-a-bag on my kitchen stovetop. The biggest difference was using the WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast, a special release known to highlight hop flavor and aroma.
Opening a bottle of what is now Fire Escape Fresh Hop Pale Ale some weeks later, you can instantly smell a burst of hops. It pours a copper color with a modest white head. Crystal clear when room temperature, the cooled beer exhibits moderate chill haze and medium carbonation. The aroma is reminiscent of oranges and grapefruit, with a medium spice to follow. The taste is surprisingly malt-forward, with the citrusy character of the hops taking a back seat to rich bread-like flavors.