Last Splash

Posted November 25, 2014

Category: Beers

Our final Backroads beer for 2014 is Last Splash, a wet hopped pale ale featuring freshly harvested Nugget hops that were delivered to the brewery within hours of being harvested.

Most beers we brew are hopped using pelletized hops. The pellets are formed from hop cones that have been picked, kilned and cooled. The kilning process typically reduces the moisture content of the hop cone from 70% to 10-12%. Hops that have not undergone this kilning or drying process that are shipped straight to breweries for use (typically) within 36 hours are referred to as wet hops. We receive these wet hops and immediately incorporate them into finished beer by stuffing them into giant bags before hanging them in fermentation vessels. Once the bags are in position, we transfer beer onto the hops to extract the beautiful flavor and aroma oils present in the wet hops.

[caption id="attachment_4672" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Wet nugget hops are overnighted to us in large containers. Wet nugget hops are overnighted to us large containers.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4675" align="aligncenter" width="244"]Nugget Hop Cone Nugget Hop Cone[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4676" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Hops are stuffed into bags before being placed in fermentation tanks. Hops are stuffed into bags before being placed in fermentation tanks.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4674" align="aligncenter" width="246"]Each bag contains approximately 10 pounds of wet hops. Each bag contains approximately 10 pounds of wet hops.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4677" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Last Splash is available in 6 packs of 12 ounce bottles. Last Splash is available in 6 packs of 12 ounce bottles.[/caption]

Stylistically speaking, Last Splash would best be described as a wet hopped pale ale. We don’t feel that the bitterness level of 43 IBUs places this beer in the IPA category. The use of caramel and Munich malts creates a strong caramel toffee presence that serves to ground the slightly peachy, green, grassy notes from the wet Nugget hops. Last Splash is late hopped on the brewhouse with Cascade and Styrian Golding hops to provide a fruit/spicy aroma that serves to catapult the aromas and flavors derived from the oil content of the wet cones.

In the past, we’ve also employed a similar process with Nutcracker Ale, our winter warmer, but this year, we wanted to brew a new wet hop beer that we felt did more to showcase the aromas and flavors you can achieve by using wet hops. For this reason, we adjusted the recipe and process of Nutcracker Ale to no longer be wet hopped. Nutcracker Ale has always been dry-hopped with a combination of wet and pelletized Chinook hops. The change results in a slight loss of grassy/green character from the wet hops, but we feel that Nutcracker Ale is actually improved due to the change. The pelletized hop flavors and aromas won’t degrade nearly as fast as the wet hop character will so we’ve been able to produce a beer that will taste fresher for a longer period of time.

As with previous Backroads beers, Entwined Ale and Hibiscus Gose, Last Splash is a one-time drop and will only be available for a limited time. Nutcracker Ale will be on shelves through the holiday season.

“The road must eventually lead to the whole world.” – Jack Kerouac

- Jeremy Danner, Ambassador Brewer