Brewer Brian Confer of Stormcloud Brewing Company in Frankfort has launched his Leelanau Pale Ale series. Each of the 13 brews will feature a single local hop variety to allow beer fans to appreciate the nuances of the hops that are being produced on the Leelanau Peninsula.
“I got the idea when we were doing our wet-hopped beer this fall with hops from Empire,” Confer explains. “I was so happy with how that beer came out, and this fall when I toured the hopyards in Leelanau County with the Michigan Brewers Guild I realized how many hops they are producing.”
He has purchased 12 hop varieties (listed below) from the Empire Hops Farm and one from New Mission Organics in Omena. To provide a level playing field, Brian has elected to brew the same ale, a bit maltier than a pale ale with a hint of caramely sweetness.
Brian says he ordered 16 pounds of every hop that they sell and started with Nugget. He’s making 5 barrels of each for exclusive service at the pub. That’s almost gone with the Fuggle next up.
“Fuggle is one of the main hops in our signature Rainmaker Ale, and I’m really interested to see the differences between hops grown here and those from the Pacific Northwest,” Brian says. “For over a decade I’ve been brewing, and the hops have just shown up on a truck. It’s so cool to be able to pull a hop off the vine and rub it around in your fingers like Jim Koch in that Sam Adams commercial and to see that bag from 30 minutes away. They take their craft as seriously as we do and are trying to grow the best product they can. So far, they are doing an excellent job!”
Find out for yourself at Stormcloud Brewing at 303 Main in Frankfort and follow them on Facebook for the latest updates!
The hops, in order of production are:
- Nugget: a great bittering hop with a clean bitterness and herbal aroma; typically used in pale ales and IPAs.
- Fuggle: a cornerstone hop in English brewing; classic aroma hop with pleasant wood and fruit tone; typically used in many British ales across all styles.
- Summit: a high alpha hop with funky, earthy, tangerine character; typically used in a variety of American Style Ales, particularly pale ales and IPAs.
- Crystal: used mainly for its aromatic properties. Mild, spicy and floral; typically used in a range of beer styles, from Barleywines to Lagers.
- Magnum: prized mostly for its high bittering value. Also has a spice & citrus aroma; used extensively in a range of beer styles often early in the boil to gain a good clean bitterness.
- Empire: classic noble hop type bittering with an aromatic blend of earth and spice; this hop has been in the state since 1850 and is grown only in Michigan and exclusively at Empire Orchards and Hop Farm.
- Cascade: a very popular US variety, with a moderate bitterness and fragrant, citrus-floral aroma; synonymous with American Pale Ale; typically used in American Pale Ales and IPAs. The signature hop in Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale.
- Vovjidina: a high alpha dual purpose hop – used both for its bittering and aroma properties. Exhibits a superior noble hop aroma profile; not widely used. Fun fact: it’s slow to catch on because it’s hard to pronounce! (Voe-va-dine-a).
- Chinook: mild to medium-heavy, spicy, piney and slight grapefruity; used extensively for bittering and dry-hopping in a range of American ales.
- Willamette: mild and pleasant, slightly spicy, fruity, floral and a little earthy; similar to and often used as a substitute to British Fuggles; used far and wide in a vast range of beer styles.
- Brewer’s Gold: resiny and spicy bittering hop with a fruity black currant aroma; used in a range of beers from English & Belgian ales to German lagers.
- Glacier: a clean bittering hop with an earthy & citrus aroma; used in a range of American ales.
- Centennial: sometimes referred to as a “Super Cascade” with strong floral and citrus tones and clean bitterness; used extensively in American Pale Ales and IPAs. The signature hop in Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.