Episode 161: For Matt Lincoln of Fremont, Brewing Fresh Hop Beers is a Labor of Love
Seattle’s Fremont Brewing (https://www.fremontbrewing.com) is known for fresh hop beers, and over the past decade they’ve engaged in a level of problem solving (on both the logistical and technical sides) that is relatively unparalleled. What started as a small organic experiment with a well-established hop farm has turned into a yearly logistical dance, as harvesters, trucks, and brew staff work in concert to pick hops at the right time, transport them at the right temperature, and get them into batches at just the right moment. In this episode, Director of Brewing Operations Matt Lincoln (who has been with the brewery since day one) explains both the operational challenges the brewery faces to tackle such an ambitious fresh hop program, and how they manage fresh hops through the brewing process. Whether it’s planning their brewing volume based on the season’s yield, using their lauter tun as a hop back with moving rakes to aid extraction, or tweaking temperatures to insure the best outcomes, Fremont has learned much the past decade of brewing these beers at scale.
The conversation also moves through how the brewery’s approach to hoppy beers has evolved, pushing more and more hot side hops into the whirlpool to retain aromatics while still achieving the right amount of isomerization for their unapologetically bitter IPAs. Yeast expression is of particular importance, as is managing hop creep, and Lincoln discusses both in depth. Later, he pivots to discuss their approach to barrel aging and blending beers like B-Bomb that have earned the brewery much acclaim.
Fresh hop beers are expensive to make with difficult challenges to overcome as brewers and growers manage tricky constraints in time and temperature, but few breweries brew them as well as Fremont does. When you listen to Lincoln explain it, you’ll understand why.
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