Dru Ernst, the man whose name is on the door at Dru Bru, is a graduate of Gonzaga University in Spokane. So too is Graham Gamache of Cornerstone Ranches, a hop farm in the Yakima Valley. This was unbeknownst to the two alumni until one of Dru’s old college buddies mentioned it. Introductions were made and a plan was hatched. Using fresh hops from Cornerstone Ranches, Dru Bru recently brewed up a batch of fresh hop ale.
The beer will be released this Friday, September 15th. “We plan to allocate a large portion of this beer to the Spokane market, but kegs will also make it out to the Yakima, Wenatchee, and Seattle areas.”
Dru says that he’s always been a big supporter of his alma mater. “I’ve always had a big place in my heart for Spokane and Gonzaga University–I met my wife, Sara, there. Dru Bru continues to support Gonzaga through charitable donations and by providing beer for events like the Battle in Seattle, the Alumni Golf Outing, and the Scholarship Foundation fundraiser.”
He adds, “I really wanted to make a beer to reinforce our connection to Gonzaga and Spokane, so when my good friend, a former teammate from the Gonzaga Tennis team, told me he was friends with a Gonzaga graduate who was a hop farmer in Toppenish, my mind immediately went to brewing a Zag-Grown, Zag-Brewed beer.”
“Graham and I discussed plans, like the harvesting schedule and the hop options,” says Dru. “We decided on the Centennial variety because it was looking extra juicy this year and it is a variety that gets harvested early [in the harvest season] so we’d be able to release the beer before the Yakima Hop Festival and the Inland Northwest Beer Festival in Spokane. Once the Centennial harvest started, Graham and I were in regular communication about the timing of the pick up, to make sure we pulled our hops from the most aromatic field.”
“From a beer perspective, we brewed up a 35-barrel batch using a simple malt bill built to showcase the awesome Centennial fresh hops from Cornerstone Ranches. I drove down the day of the brew, while our brewer Cheyenne was starting up the brew, and picked up 150 pounds of Centennial hops directly from the hop sorting facility. I met with Graham who took me on a short tour of their facility, which ended with me filling up a few burlap sacks of wet, freshly picked, Centennial nuggets that were picked early that morning.”
“At Dru Bru we like to have a ripping party on fresh hop brew day, when all our customers and employees come to the tap room and rip the fresh hops in half. This is our attempt to get as much lupulin out of each cone as possible. So after a few hours of ripping, the hops were ready to be added to the brew; all 150 lbs went into the whirlpool. We then fermented the beer, and dry hopped it with Centennial, Citra, Mosaic, and Ekuanot.”
Graham and Dru have talked about doing this collaboration every year and making it a fresh hop tradition. They are also talking about putting together a Zag-Grown, Zag-Bru’d party in Spokane in October. We’ll share details as we know them.
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