Stormcloud Brewing Company is celebrating the seasonal release of the brewery’s Harvest Tripel. The innovative and unique beer blends the traditional Belgian Tripel beer style with freshly harvested hops grown in northern Michigan.
Released annually using a different hop variety every year, the 2020 Harvest Tripel is brewed exclusively with Michigan Saaz hops grown by Michigan Hop Alliance in Omena, Michigan.
Using fresh, whole cone hops in brewing presents a couple of uncommon challenges to Stormcloud’s brewing team. First, the brewers are unaware of the hop variety they will be brewing with until the end of the growing season.
“We never really know what hop we’re going to use until a week or so before harvest,” says Stormcloud’s Head Brewer and Co-Owner, Brian Confer. “We have a solid relationship with Brian Tennis at Michigan Hop Alliance. A couple weeks before harvest, I call him to discuss what he has growing and what’s looking good, then we make the decision during that call.”
The next challenge comes when the hops are harvested. It is imperative to use the freshly harvested hops as soon as possible to ensure maximum aroma, flavor, and freshness of the brew. This year’s Harvest Tripel was brewed within 24 hours of the hops being harvested.
“I personally delivered the hops to Stormcloud this year,” says Brian Tennis, Founder of Michigan Hop Alliance. “It’s satisfying to see our hops go from field to brew kettle in less than a day, and it’s rewarding to have our product become an essential ingredient in such a distinctive beer. Stormcloud is the only brewery I’m aware of crafting a fresh-hopped Harvest Tripel.”
In the past, Stormcloud has brewed a series of Harvest Ales with fresh hops. But the brewery has scaled back its wet hopped offerings to focus entirely on brewing the Harvest Tripel.
“We find the Tripel is a fantastic base beer to use for a Harvest Ale,” explains Confer. “We use locally grown Pilsner malt from Empire Malting Company, then hit it with a large amount of sugar during fermentation. This brings the ABV up to where it should be for a Tripel, but also lightens the body even more. The result is a clean base beer that allows that wonderful fresh hop character to shine through, and the resinous quality of the fresh hops becomes a large part of the mouthfeel and flavor of the beer.”
“Vibrant. That’s how our brewers describe this special beer and I agree,” says Amy Martin, Stormcloud Membership Coordinator and member of the American Homebrewers Association Governing Committee. “The beer flavor is bursting with ripe hop essence that delicately permeates the beer. You can’t get that from using hop pellets, oils or even whole leaf hops.”
Harvest Tripel is now available on tap in both Stormcloud’s pub and taproom in Frankfort.
About Stormcloud Brewing Company
Stormcloud Brewing Company opened in June 2013 just two blocks from Lake Michigan in the coastal city of Frankfort, located in northwest lower Michigan. A small brewery specializing in Belgian-style brewing, Stormcloud was named the Best New Brewery in Michigan by MLive Media Group in August 2016. In June 2017, Stormcloud was named Best Local Brew Pub or Tap Room by the readers of Traverse Magazine. Stormcloud Brewing Company is a proud member of the Michigan Brewers Guild, Lakeshore Brewers Guild, and Brewer’s Association. Visit Stormcloud online at Stormcloudbrewing.com.