EBC, Cornell University team up to produce harvest ale

Submitted Photos
Above, fresh hops destined for an Ellicottville Brewing Company harvest ale get the final sorting by members of EBC, the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program and community volunteers.

Submitted Photos Above, fresh hops destined for an Ellicottville Brewing Company harvest ale get the final sorting by members of EBC, the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program and community volunteers.

JAMESTOWN — Cornell Cooperative Extension Chautauqua County’s Lake Erie Regional Grape Program has announced that Ellicottville Brewing Company in Ellicottville, and Cornell University have once again teamed up to use hops grown at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory (CLEREL) in Portland. Every year since 2013, members of the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program extension and research staff have taken the drive to EBC in Ellicottville to deliver fresh hops from the CLEREL hop yards and assist brewers Dan Minner and James Antonio in brewing a harvest ale. What makes this beer special is that it can be brewed only once per year as the addition of wet hops can happen only during the hops harvest season. This is due to the use of wet hops, which are harvested and delivered as quickly as possible for use in the brewing process, without any of the additional processing like drying or pelletizing. For the first time since this project began, EBC employees were able to come to CLEREL and assist in the hops harvest.

In years past, the hops varieties Cascade and Chinook were used in all stages of the brewing process — bittering, aroma and dry hopping at the end. This year, the variety Cashmere replaced Cascade, and a good deal of the Chinook, typically used. Cashmere is known as a dual-purpose hop that can be used for additions of both bitterness and aroma. The aroma characteristics of the hop are intensively fruity and provide flavors of lemon, lime, peach and melon. If you have a good palette you might also be able to pick up coconut, lemongrass and herbs.

Another first this year was a bit of experimentation of how the cones were prepared for immersion into the brew kettle. Previously, the hop cones were left intact, packed into cheesecloth bags containing approximately two pounds each and suspended in the brew kettle. For the 2017 ale, cones were fed through a mulching device in order to expose more of the lupulin glands that contain the oils responsible for the bittering and aroma properties the hops provide. The mulched hops were then placed in the cheesecloth bags and suspended in the brew kettle. For the past four years, this harvest ale has gone under the name Hopicity. There was talk on the brew room floor of renaming the brew to better represent the number of ‘firsts’ that took place this year.

The hops used in this brew are somewhat unique, not only for being local, being harvested and brewed within an 18-hour window, but also because they were grown as part of a project looking at how alternative management practices can be used to control pests. As part of a project funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute, management of Twospotted spider mites, using biocontrol, was examined in the Chinook planting. The Cashmere were part of the same project but had different weed management strategies, ranging from propane weed burners and rotary hoes to hay mulch applied.

Tim Weigle, of NYS Integrated Pest Management Program, has been looking at ways to manage hop pests using sustainable practices. One of the reasons behind this is that hops are considered a specialty crop so there are limited conventional materials labeled for use against hop pests in New York. Creating Integrated Pest Management strategies for hop growers will allow them to economically manage pests while producing a quality crop. This will be instrumental in ensuring the hops supply needed not only for local harvest ales but also to keep the farm breweries supplied with the hops they need to produce beers from ingredients produced in New York.

The Hopyards at CLEREL are a combined effort of members of the NYS IPM Program and the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program. A short video of the hops taking their annual trip to EBC is on the LERGP website as Podcast 35 at http://lergp.com/podcasts/

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is a cooperative effort between Cornell and Penn State Universities; the participating Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus counties in New York and Erie County in Pennsylvania; and participating industry partners National Grape Cooperative (Welch’s), Constellation Brands and Walkers Fruit Basket. The LERGP extension team provides research-based educational programming for commercial grape growers throughout the year at venues across the Lake Erie grape belt. For more information on LERGP, call 792-2800 or visit the website at http://lergp.cce.cornell.edu/

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is one of many programs offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County (CCE-Chautauqua). CCE-Chautauqua is a community based educational organization, affiliated with Cornell University, Chautauqua County Government, the NYS SUNY system and the federal government through the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

For more information, call 664-9502 or visit the website at www.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua. Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.

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