Chad Roberts, Snipes Mountain Brewing

Fresh hop collaboration beers gone wild. Snipes Mountain, Beveridge Place Pub present special fresh hop event

There’s only one thing that bothers me more than someone who enjoys an unfair advantage: someone who doesn’t make the most of their unfair advantage. Seems like such a waste. Especially when it comes to hops and beer.

Case in point, last year Chad Roberts (the head brew guru at Snipes Mountain Brewing in Sunnyside, WA) only produced one fresh hop beer. For a brewery that sits smack-dab in the middle of North America’s greatest hop-growing region (the Yakima Valley), it seemed a damn shame. A wasted advantage. Chad made up for it this year, producing five, and almost six, fresh hop beers. You can try them all at a special event on October 23rd at the Beveridge Place Pub (7:00 pm).

“Overall I consider it a resounding success,” says Chad, “Even though apparently we came one brew short of beating Founders Brewing’s record. Rumor has it Founders (Grand Rapids, Michigan) did six fresh hop beers, but I feel we firmly set the record for Washington State, if not the entire PNW.  Yeah, sometimes I can be prideful. We did five collaboration beers, one at Black Raven, so I don’t count that towards my record, and then two solo Snipes fresh hops beers. ”

One of the six brews didn’t quite turn out as expected and had to be flushed. The story is below.

Why collaborate? Chad explains, “At some point it also occurred to me that I love collabs, as they are always a great brewer playdate and valuable exchange of ideas and processes so we can all better ourselves.  I also love to share our incredible access to fresh, fantastic hops, and what better way to combine both than to do as many fresh hop collabs as possible in one harvest.”

Below is the list of beers, along with Chad’s descriptions of each, that the Beveridge Place Pub will pour at the event on Thursday, October 23.

Chad says, “I plan to have my assistant brewers there with me, and hopefully most of the collaboration brewers representing as well, with a whole mess of special event t-shirts I will have printed myself galore.”

The Nooch 5.5% ABV 43 BU
8/30/14 @ Snipes Mountain Brewing w/ Foggy Noggin Brewing of Bothell, WA

Following Jim’s lead on the malt bill for an English-style ESB, I acquired the Crisp floor malted Maris Otter (though I accidentally ordered the even fancier Gleneagles Scottish variant) and C-120 he uses in his brewery, tempered with some Great Western Pale Malt, which is our preferred maltster. Luckily we were able to squeeze a brew day in before his daughter gave birth, and he and his son Matt came down and we had a great day brewing up a quite tasty, balanced ESB packed with 300 pounds of fresh Centennial. I considered it a take off on our previous fresh hop beer the Hooch which was an English-style pale with Cascade throughout.

Fresh Hop Saison 2014 6.2% ABV 35 BU
9/9/14 @ Black Raven Brewing in Redmond WA with Chad Roberts of Snipes Mountain Brewing of Sunnyside, WA

In the continuation of a great trend started by Chris Miller and Beaux Bowman, I made my pilgrimage from the nearly century old kiln in Granger, to Redmond with a back breakingly intense amount of fresh Citra hops, as well as a van full of beer to deliver to my distributor, as I am wont to do. I also brought over a hundred pounds of fresh Citra for Don Webb of Naked City for his Hoptari 2014. We filled the mashtun hopback to near bursting, and had a thoroughly enjoyable brew day, as I had to do next to nothing in the brewery. What a relief. Beaux, Tom and I had been discussing what to do for a few weeks, and had resolved upon a classic french saison, and luck of the draw decided it was to be packed with an insane amount of intense Citra hops, twisting the style in a rare direction. It is a pleasing, light bodied and crisp expression of Citra in a whole new way. Dig it.

Paquero 7.2% ABV 91 BU
9/11/14 @ Snipes Mountain Brewing with Chris Baum of Snipes Mountain Brewing of Sunnyside, WA

One day I had asked Pete Venegas of Yakima Chief what the spanish names for all the hop workers were, and one stuck out obviously, as a perfect name for a fresh hopped Vaquero. The Paquero is the operator of the hop baler after they are dried and cooled. Ironically (?) the couple hundred pounds of fresh Mosaic that went in never made it to the paquero. My kickass assistant brewer Joy was off over the mountains on her way to Drill at Fort Lewis, so I called in the reserves, my longtime part-time prodigal assistant brewer Chris Baum. The brew day went fantastic, other than the fact that I spaced that Vaquero is not a max-capacity brew, so we ran off a little more than usual, thus ending up 1% less ABV. So I decided to call it an India Double Ale, keeping in style with the nomenclature of India Session Ale. Though later I wrote it up as a Fresh Hopped (ALMOST) Double IPA. It so far has been the star of the show, and has kept up the high standard set by Vaquero, and may have even lent some improvements to future batches of Vaquero. It was also my first time in the final 8 for the judging at the Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Festival, which out of 35 entries gave me a good warm feeling. Also, I didn’t want a goddamned cornhole board trophy. I hate cornhole. Washers!

New Deputy 3.2% 45 BU
9/16/14 @ Snipes Mountain Brewing with Joy Peterson of Snipes Mountain brewing of Sunnyside, WA

In my endless quest to explore the reaches of IPA, I attempted to brew a 2.5% SIPA, which as you can see did not quite work out. Low gravity beers are very hard to keep from over attenuating. I took my old familiar recipe for New Sheriff, a fresh hop SIPA, and cut it down to meet my assumed specifications, with an increase in the Dextrine malt to hopefully create some residual unfermentable body to cut the hoppiness. I then threw caution to the wind and used all experimental hops in the boil. It is still carbonating and cold crashing, but is showing early promise as a nicely quaffable hoppy concoction.

Tree Stand 7.0% 37 BU
9/23/14 @ Snipes Mountain Brewing with David Kilgour and Ryan of Wild Earth Brewing of Roslyn, WA

I had met David at Winterhop in Ellensburg when he was still a t-shirt brewery with no beer, but was intrigued by his idea and with a long love of Roslyn, had been speaking with him for a while about getting together and doing something. A fresh hop collab, like usual, was just the thing. Friends of Snipes own the Roslyn Cafe now, and had poured a good bit of our Longrifle saison, which David said he liked and we could use as a jumping off point for what Chris calls a “Saison Creole” as it is blackened with Carafa III and Sinamar late in the boil to get a deep dark color without the accompanying flavor. David hails from the brewing shores of the East Coast, and had never seen a hop yard or dreamed he would be able to brew a fresh hop, so I was very pleased to take him on the tour and give him the full Yakima Valley experience. Interestingly, we did our second fresh hop saison this year with Citra as well, but with ones which hung longer due to someone’s desire and thus had more oils expectedly. As most of our saisons have had names like Buckshot, Longrifle and Rimfire, while Wild Earth’s beers are conifer related, I decided the only confluence between firearms and the woods was a Tree Stand, the perch from which hunters destroy their prey. Also, we never thought of a better name. It is also crashing and carbonating, but will be an interesting cut no doubt when it releases.

That New Hip Hop 3.8% ABV 32 BU
9/25/14 @ Snipes Mountain Brewing with John Carothers and Ryan McGee of Hi-Fi Brewing of Redmond, WA

As another brewery I am impressed with, as well as one I share a distributor with, I had been reaching out to Hi-Fi to schedule a collab, and it came through as a fresh hop based around our mutual love of an under appreciated hop, Ahtanum. Unfortunately, as is the nature of agriculture, that morning I found out the yard I planned to get hops from was not picking due to the unseasonable rain, which halts hop harvest. Luckily, we have many farms nearby and with some scrambling and some favors from some wonderful hop growers, I managed to get over a 150 pounds of huge, beautiful, fresh Equinox cones delivered right to the brewery. As Hi-Fi names their beers in relation to music, and the working title I was using was Lo-Fi (not a great one), during the brew we began discussing a proper name. I mentioned that Equinox is “that new, hip hop all the cool kids are using” and the name stuck. Also, “that new hip hop” is a lyric from some rap song I can’t google the name to, due to the poor searchability of a phrase like that. The beer is a tasty, round American Wheat that is sure to please as summer gives way to Fall.

Helles Sticke Hoppelbock 7.3% ABV 27 BU
9/3/14 @ Snipes Mountain Brewing w/ Epic Ales of Seattle, WA
La Grita (CANCELLED) 9/5/14

Determined to prove that we are in fact two separate people, Cody Morris and I months ago decided we would brew a Doppelbock in honor of our oft observed doppelganger status. To throw it out the window in the style of Epic Ales, I decided we would fresh hop it with a whole mess of Simcoe and call it a Hoppelbock.

Then to convolute it even further, we agreed we would attempt a second runnings sour mash, which then meant we could not incorporate the fresh hops in the emptied mash tun as I usually do. So, to test why I had been told Snipes system does not work with whole cone hops, we dumped over two hundred pounds of fresh Simcoe right into the kettle at end of boil. The terrible noise the whirlpool pump made in response told me immediately what I needed to know. Luckily, Snipes is in possession of a very early prototype of Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo, which was developed with one of our early brewers and Yakima Chief concurrently, so I am told. We put the “Sniper” between the kettle and the pump and gloriously were able to extract the wort into the fermenter.

The insane mess that required me climbing into the kettle with a broom handle to drive the cones out was a sight to behold indeed. Thus the “Helles Sticke”, which carries double meaning in both German and English for both of us. The result is a delicious golden Helles Bock with a nice hit of delicate hop character.

The result of the spurious sour mash and it’s summary hopping with 250 pounds of fresh Vanguard hops will only be drank by the Morlocks deep within the sewer system of Sunnyside Municipal and never to be spoken of again. Whatever the result, it was a great four days hanging out and working with my brother from another mother.