Wednesday, September 09, 2009

NABC Wet Knob Hop Harvest Ale: Early release date is Tuesday, September 15.

NABC’s Wet Knob Hop Harvest Ale will return to the taps at both Grant Line (Public House & Pizzeria) and the downtown Bank Street Brewhouse on Tuesday, September 15.

This triumphant unveiling comes at least three weeks earlier than we anticipated, and therein lies a story.

Wet Knob has evolved. In 2006, NABC’s brew team of Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson formulated a recipe to be fermented with the California Common yeast normally used for Mt. Lee and Kaiser. The occasion was New Albany’s Harvest Homecoming, and specifically, the late and lamented Bistro New Albany’s parking lot gala planned for the annual local festival’s “booth days” in early October.

The beer was called Homecoming Common, and was greeted with enthusiasm.

In 2007, the NABC downtown Harvest Homecoming gig moved to Connor’s Place, and the Homecoming Common beer was brewed a second time and dispensed at the initial Connor’s location on Main Street. Again, the response was favorable.

Harvest Homecoming in 2008 offered NABC a very different set of variables. For one, we were in control of the building that was being remodeled for the Bank Street Brewhouse, and with a parking lot of our own for erecting a tent and booking music, we came up with the idea of Fringe Fest, a celebration of our own to run concurrently with the three primary “booth days” of New Albany’s civic fest.

Just as joyously, several of our employees and friends started raising hops at their farms in what we call “the Knobs,” those hills on the horizon that mark the end of the Ohio River floodplain and the beginning of the rolling terrain of the Southern Indiana uplands.

Our longtime office manager Colleen Abston and her husband Matt started Abstonia Farms, and worked at learning the hop game along with Tabbatha Elble (for many years an NABC server at Grant Line) and her husband Travis, whose property is close by the Abstons’ land.

Consequently, there was an opportunity for NABC to brew genuine “wet hop” ale using freshly harvested and unprocessed hops in the fashion of similar seasonal ales brewed for many years in hop-growing areas on the West Coast. The recipe was recalibrated for use with the house strain of London yeast, as many hops as possible from the first year’s harvest were used for aroma, the name was changed to Wet Knob Hop Harvest Ale, and it was designated as the official ale of Fringe Fest.

Now it’s 2009, and as noted, we’re ready to begin serving this year’s batch of Wet Knob a full three weeks before Fringe Fest. Why?

We’re being faithful to the fundamental concept of wet hop ale. The idea is to brew while the hop harvest is underway, and this year, the harvest was completed by the Abstons and Elbles much earlier than in 2008 because of the mild and wet summer growing season.

NABC's Wet Knob Hop Harvest Ale was brewed concurrent with the harvest, and it’s now it is finished, fresh and ready to drink. We propose to drink it now, at its peak, rather than wait for Fringe Fest.

Beer’s a natural thing, and this is the natural way to drink it.

So, the taps open on Tuesday, September 15, and the batch is split between Grant Line and Bank Street. Jared brewed this year’s Wet Knob at Grant Line, so that comes to eight kegs in all, so expect it to go very quickly. Senior management has done taste tests, and trust us: This one is superb.

Remember: While enjoying this marvelous ale, please salute the hop growing pioneers in the Knobs. They’re creating sustainable local business out of nothing, and deserve big kudos for doing so.

Here is Jared’s ingredient list and notes.

Simpsons Golden Promise, Simpsons Caramalt

Pellet Cascade (bittering/flavor), wet Cascade and Chinook in the hopback (for aroma, used in under 24 hours from the time of harvest)

House dry English (1st GL batch of ale brewed using Bank Street yeast)

ABV: 5%

IBU: 51

Photos from top to bottom: Abstonia hops; harvest duty with Matt Abston; Jared Williamson on brew day. All photo credits are John Campbell's.


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