We are excited to announce that Wildflower Amongst the Bines will be available online and for take-away/collection from 12pm (Sydney time) on Friday 7 August 2020.
Amongst the Bines is a golden barrel-matured Australian Wild Ale fermented wholly by wild yeast and bacteria residing on an entire organically grown hop bine and freshly picked wet hops from Ryefield Hops in Bemboka, NSW in Februrary 2019. It was aged in barrel for one year and then dry-hopped with a few hops from 2020 before bottling. This is a pretty fun, very experimental beer. Since we kicked off this ferment in February 19, we have come to learn that we are not the only ones to try this and we are in good company with our mates Garage Project making a similar beer in 2019 called 'Hop Bine'.
I had long been curious about the potential of using wet hops as wild yeast sources to ferment beer. In many other fermentations, the necessary yeast(s) can be found on one of the ingredients and I was interested in what may live on or around hops at harvest. Until 2019 though, I haven’t had access to a local (enough to drive to) organic hop farm. I am overly excited and totally privileged to have finally put this to the test thanks to Jade, Karen and Morgan of Ryefield Hops, who in their in their second harvest of beautiful NSW grown organic hops, helped me out with this query.
In early Feb 2019, I left Sydney early in the morning and drove to Bemboka, NSW where we picked fresh Saaz hops directly into a sanitised vessel and then covered them with sterile wort. I drove the wort back to Sydney the next morning and let this ferment kick off. The hop ferment started an active, very clean fermentation after about 1 week. I'll admit, I was terrified and was sure that it hadn't worked. But sure enough, my trust in my process yielded a nice smelling, super Belgian-y ferment. Once it was well and truly going, we brewed a larger batch with fresh wet and dried hops from the same bines and pitched the smaller into the larger as a starter. These fermented in stainless for two weeks before being racked to two barrels on 26 February 2019. There the two rested for one year.
It was my intention to re-do this process in 2020 and at the same time put wet hops into this '19 blend before we bottled it. However, due to the crippling drought and the subsequent bushfires, Ryefield did not have a 2020 harvest at all. Well, I say that but there were a very hearty few kg of hop that made it through both of these tragedies. A portion of those went into dry hopping this blend before it was bottled in May 2020.
At release, Amongst the Bines has aromas of lemon zest, citrus sorbet and herbaceous grassy, earthy hop characters. French oak spice and subtle funk notes add complexity on the back. The palate is full of fresh hop characters, soft vanilla and aged Sauvignon blanc vinous elements. Fresh and lively with a lovely gentle mouthfeel.
We have 300 bottles available online and for take-away/collection at the cellar door ($26 a bottle, limit of 6 per person).
We would like to draw attention to an addendum on the label, which has the word 'wet' hops blacked out. When we went to print this label, the fires hadn't started on the south coast and a 2020 harvest seemed likely. We thought we would be able to once again use wet hops and also incorrectly stated that there was a 2020 harvest to speak of at Ryefield. Jade has offered us this explanation of the hops we did end up using...
"The few hops that were able to be salvaged from the 2020 harvest were prioritised for Wildflower Brewing and Blending. We value the relationship we have with Wildflower and their support and the creativity of the beers made with our hops. Following a heart breaking 2020 season that included the worst drought the area has experienced coupled with unprecedented bushfires our hops suffered the price and were severely impacted from both of these events. Following an induced hibernation period for the month of January brought on by thick smoke from the bushfires we received a minor flood event in early February which thankfully put out the fires. This rainfall triggered a small amount of growth in the few bines that still had some life in them and they produced a handful of cones. These cones were given to Wildflower to try and continue the legacy created from Waratah with a few used in Amongst the Bines. We hope that you enjoy the beer and appreciate the love and loss that is associated with it."
Like all our beers, Amongst the Bines is best enjoyed when decanted off a settled natural yeast sediment at cellar temperatures (10-12°C).