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A Brewer’s Tale (Part 1)

September 2, 2010

On Tuesday, at our Boston Brewery, we bottled and kegged the 33rd beer in the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series, Glacier Harvest ’10 Wet Hop Ale. Ray Dobens again is the brewer responsible for the autumn delight. This time, we finally got Ray to take the time to write down his account of the trip out to Seneca Castle, NY to pick the hops and about the brewing process. In this first installment of Ray’s story, he describes the adventure he and fellow Harpoon brewer Matt Deluca had just getting out to the hop farm.

I WANT TO TELL YOU A STORY (part 1)

by Harpoon Brewer Ray Dobens

This is the fourth time we have done the Wet Hop beer.  In addition to being the 4th installment it is the second time I am going out to NY to pick up the hops and then deliver them to the Boston facility.  This will be the second time we attempt to film and photograph the entire outing.  I lost the camera (along with other valuable personal belongings) off the back of my motorcycle while on the way to work the day after the brew last time we tried this.

This years GHWH will be the first Harpoon beer to use mostly all produced raw materials.  We are using Glacier Hops fresh from Pedersen Farms in Seneca Castle, NY.  The pale malt was grown in Maine.  Sure, the Maris Otter Malt (UK) isn’t local but it needs to be used to make this beer what it is and I think that the beer being >50% local ingredients is really cool.  It is really cool.

The idea of driving out to the farm to get the hops is exciting at first but by the time we hit the Western edge of MA, and a torrential downpour, the excitement fades and turns into a dull ache in my lower back from fighting to keep the 15′ reefer truck on the highway and away from cars.  The thing handles horribly!  We still have another 3+ hours of travel before we can see the hops and assess their overall condition.  I had hoped to do that in the light of the afternoon sun so Matt Deluca (fellow brewer and my handler on this trip) could get nice well lit photos of the fresh hops.

The fact that we did not get to leave the Brewery until after noon due to some bottling line label issues leaves us facing quite a time crunch if we want to achieve the goal of a comprehensive photo/video shoot at the farm.  I am starting to quietly doubt that any good photos are a reality.

Matt films me at various stages throughout the trip to illustrate what goes on when two brewers cram into a box truck and head out on a road trip.  We nearly ran out of gas at one point during the trip.  This is due to a combination of my urge to make it to the farm in the daylight and my desire to push tanks of gas as far as they can go.  I like to gamble on either being stranded or making it to the next gas stop.  It keeps me awake.  After I realize how spaced out the gas stops are on the NY thruway (90West) I vow not to do this again on this trip.  I think the truck was sputtering as we pulled in for diesel at the first stop.  225 miles away from Boston and already chewed through 25 gallons of Diesel.  Great!

PHOTO GALLERY OF THE HARVEST (click on any picture to see the full image)

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