Wiley Roots brews fresh hop beer with Greeley-grown hops | MyWindsorNow.com

Wiley Roots brews fresh hop beer with Greeley-grown hops

Bridgett Weaver | bweaver@greeleytribune.com

When Kyle Carbaugh got a call from Eric Reinsvold on Sunday asking if he wanted a pound of fresh hops, he said yes.

Carbaugh, owner of Wiley Roots, 625 3rd St. in Greeley, wouldn't always take someone's backyard hops for a commercial brew, but he knew Reinsvold as a home brewer and as an old friend.

On Monday morning Carbaugh started brewing an American Pale Ale fresh hop, or wet hop, beer with the product of Reinsvold's backyard hobby. The ale will be ready in a few weeks.

Carbaugh hasn't tried a fresh hop brew since his days as a hobbyist, but now that he's trying to make a living at it he can make good use of a pound of fresh hops.

"The primary advantage is that since there's no processing or anything like that, you end up getting a much brighter flavor out of the hops," he said. "You end up getting a little bit more earthiness, and a little bit more bright crispiness."

Fresh hops come straight off the bine, or the vine that hops grown on, and go into the beer. They're added at the end of the brewing process, unlike traditional hops, which boil in during the process.

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"In the typical manufacturing process for commercial use hops, those hops are kilned (or heated) to about 8-10 percent moisture content," Carbaugh explained. They normally come to brewers in pellets. "Wet hops, when they come off the bine, they're usually 75-80 percent moisture content."

About 3 p.m. on Monday, the beer was nearly ready for the fermenting process, which will take two to three weeks.

"We'll check it after that two-week period to see if it needs any more time," Carbaugh said. "If it doesn't need any more time, we'll transfer it to serving kegs and carbonate it."

That's when his customers will get a taste of it.

He made only a small batch — about 20 gallons, or 160 pints — which will go on tap as soon as it's ready.

He said he likes to take advantage of opportunities like this one because as a local brewer he likes to use local ingredients. It takes us back to our agriculture roots, he said.

"I think it's the connection to local agriculture — whether it be hobbyists doing it as a garden hobby or whether it be full-on commercial hop growers," he said. "Being able to use Colorado-based ingredients any time that we can, it's sweet."

Hops aren't commonly grown in Colorado. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn't even record hops acres planted in Colorado because there are so few.

Reinsvold said since he started growing his own hops, he's had a whole new appreciation for what's inside his pint glass.

He's been a home brewer for more than a decade, so he's long known what a big effort goes into even hobby brewing, but he admits he was once disconnected from the agricultural side of brewing.

"I think we kind of get removed from our ingredients as consumers — whether it's cellophane-wrapped beef or cans of beer — we don't know what goes into it," he said.

But when Reinsvold started to grow the hops in 2007, that changed a little bit.

"I think even if you're not a home brewer, it's cool to grow your own hops just to kind of appreciate these things that go into your beer," he said. "They're these really odd-looking things that can grow feet in days. You can appreciate the love and effort that goes in to getting this one small aspect of a beer."

Reinsvold said it's been an experience learning how to grow hops in Colorado. Traditionally, hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest, which is cool and rainy, with mild wind. That's pretty much the opposite of Colorado.

He said there is no real secret to his success in growing hops. He waters them and keeps an eye on how they grow, but he equates it to a weed. Other local hops farmers would probably disagree because it's a tough crop to grow in Colorado's weather.

Reinsvold thinks there's research being done to support growing hops in a Colorado climate.

"Why are we trying to grow hops that were developed at Oregon State, when we should be trying to grow hops grown at Colorado State University?" he said. "That's where we'll see the jump — when you can find kind of region-specific hops."

For now, he said using the far and few between local hops helps to bring that local flavor to the beer.

"It's kind of that seasonality — those unique, one-offs. If you're trying to reproduce a recipe, it's not for that," Reinsvold said. "If you can have (the hops) capturing a little bit of regionality in a bottle, that's kind of a cool idea."

Colorado Beer Facts

Craft beer is a huge contribution to Colorado’s economy, attracted thousands of out-of-state visitors per year. In 2014, the industry was estimated to have had a $2.7 billion impact. Colorado ranks third in the U.S. in both number of breweries at 284 craft breweries and in breweries per capita, at 7.3. Colorado also ranks third in the nation for craft production, with 1,775,831 barrels of craft beer produced per year. New breweries open each year, with an increase of more than 150 between 2011 and 2015.

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Wiley Roots

Find Wiley Roots Brewing Company at 625 3rd St., or online at http://www.wileyroots.com. The brewery can also be reached at (970) 515-7315.

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