Podcast #27 – Harvest Ale Review – Beer Brewed with Fresh Hops

Amber Ale Brewed with Fresh Hops
Jake behind hop plants
Getting ready to pick hops

Harvest Ales Suck

Based on my experience, harvest ales are hard to do. You’re brewing with hops you know nothing about, other than what you can smell. Many that I have had suffer from a tendency to taste “grassy” because you’re putting what amounts to a fresh vegetable in your beer.

Many harvest ales I’ve tried are unbalanced toward maltiness/sweetness. Dealing with dried, pelletized hops, it’s easy to think, “Oh, I put twice as many hops as normal in this beer, it’ll be fine.” But I heard Rodger Davis talk about a conversation with Vinnie Cilurzo. The summary was that you need to use 4-6 times the amount of hops you normally would.

Based on that conversation, I decided that I would just go for it and use more hops than seemed prudent. How did it turn out? You’ll have to listen to find out.

Back in episode #25, I talked about the process I used to make my first harvest ale. Here’s the recipe I used:

Amber Ale Brewed with Fresh Hops“Freshies”

For an 11-gallon batch at approximately 70% efficiency:


  • 12 pounds pale 2-row
  • 6 pounds dark Munich
  • 1 pound special B
  • 6 ounces crystal 10 L

Mash for 1 hour at 152 Fahrenheit


  • 11 ounces homegrown, fresh cascade hops (60 min)
  • 11 ounces homegrown, fresh cascade hops (15 min)
  • 11 ounces homegrown, fresh cascade hops (0 min)

Original Gravity: 1.041

Final Gravity: 1.006

Bag o' hopsOne challenge of brewing with fresh hops is the sheer volume of hops needed to reach your targeted weight.

Interview with Roger from Faction brewing referenced in this episode.

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