The parking lot of Capitol Hill’s Elysian Brewery was covered in hop vines Tuesday as a group of volunteers helped harvest the cones.
“I live at Elysian more than I like to admit,” said hops picker Sean Allan who lives right next door to the E Pike brewery.
Earlier this week, Elysian put out a Facebook call asking for hop trimming helpers. Most volunteers said they were interested because of their love for beer. The group included a young couple in college and a beer tap designer.
Elysian brewers said they needed to harvest the premature hops to stay on schedule. They are making two beers to enter into the Great American Beer Festival in Denver the first weekend of October.
Tuesday’s truckload had two types of hops, one used for each beer.
“These are wet hops now, feel how they are a little damp,” said Elysian’s Kevin Watson.
The hops were from a farm in the Yakima Valley. The brewery needed the hops this week so the cones were mildly premature. If left on the farm, the cones would have been harvested in a week.
As soon as the group had picked away all the mosaic hops, they were taken to Elysian Fields in Sodo to be added to the American IPA 50 Shades of Green already in the brewing process.The rest of the truck was full of citrus hops that will be used for the Kama Citra IPA.
The unique call for volunteers came about as a result of Elysian needing the fresh hops to meet its special brewing deadlines. Usually, breweries ship in hops that are dried after the harvest season, Elysian representatives said. The wet hops are special because some of the flavors derived are unique to their fresh character which can be lost in the heating and drying process.
“If you look inside, it’s where you’re going to find the acids, aromas, and that bitterness,” said Watson.