Supervised by Budweiser Budvar’s brewing-house master and other representatives of the brewery, two special beer batches using fresh hop cones were brewed on Friday 29th August. Fresh hop cones rank amongst the rarest brewing ingredients, as they must be processed instantly after their harvest, therefore on the same day they were picked. For that reason they are only used infrequently in brewing, with Budweiser Budvar probably being the only bigger Czech brewery that brews using fresh hops. Actually, this year was only the third time fresh hops were used in the history of the brewery.
Numbering amongst the leading Czech hop sellers and traders, ARIX, joint-stock company supplied the hops of Saaz “poloraný červeňák” cultivar. Weighing a total of 800 kg, the fresh hop cones were freshly picked during the morning on the “Splav” hop field, which belongs to the famous locality of “Golden Stream Valley” (“Údolí Zlatého potoka”) in the cadastre of the hop-growing municipality of Blšany. Budweiser Budvar’s brewing-house master Aleš Dvořák, beer quality management specialist Petr Košin, Ph.D. and PR manager Petr Samec, Dr. all took part in the hops harvest directly in the field. The majority of the cones were picked on the hop-picker, which is stood closely to the “Splav” hop field. “Brewing beer using fresh hops represents a kind of ‘sacred day’ for all of us, when we pay tribute to our key ingredient. We would like to thank the ARIX company for their excellent cooperation during the harvest,” says Budweiser Budvar’s brewing-house master Aleš Dvořák.
In the early evening of 29th August, the fresh hops were used in brewing two batches of special beer BUD B:STRONG Limited Edition - beer with 16% gravity and a final alcohol content of 7.5% vol. “The hopping took place in the traditional way we use for all the other beer - by hand-adding of hop cones directly into the mashing pot in three lots. The fresh hops supply the beer with a higher amount of aromatic substances and a rather more distinct, yet fine bitterness compared to dried hops,” explains Aleš Dvořák.
“This year, we brewed two batches using fresh hops - a total of 800 hectolitres, which is double of last year’s volume, in order to accommodate the large interest of beer connoisseurs as well as our business partners in this type of beer. We expect to export to several countries,” explains Aleš Dvořák. The beer brewed on 29th August 2014 can be savoured by customers in the second half of March 2015, since the maturing period of BUD B:STRONG is 200 days. The special beer made from fresh hops is going to be supplied in 20-litre kegs only to selected restaurants and pubs.
Beer made from fresh hops was brewed in Budweiser Budvar Brewery in August 2012 for the first time. “At the time, there was no one in the brewery who would have any personal experience with fresh hops. Nonetheless, the outcome pleasantly surprised us and our customers consumed the whole batch within several days,” concludes Aleš Dvořák.