Train Wreck FreshHop IPA

The Story

The genesis of this glorious boozy beverage is located in the Abbotsfordian park of Fishtrap Creek. We discovered a treasure trove of hops growing in the wild. Our best guess as to the variety was “Cluster”, based on local history and their intense pine aroma. AJ discovered that a train system once went through the park during the days of hop production in the Fraser Valley. We surmised that a train derailed or stopped there spilling its contents around the area. This theory was the inspiration for naming our fresh hop beer, the Train Wreck FreshHop IPA.

Old Hops

The Tasting

Appearance: Light coloured; foamy head (note: the picture below was taken before the carbonation was complete)
Aroma: Very piney, herbal. Probably would have benefited from some Cascade hops, but that’s not the purpose of this beer.
Taste: A slow build up of pine taste, with a bit of that English spicy, herbal flavour. For lack of a better term, it actually tastes fresh, and a little bit of a tang (again a poor term, but the English language eludes me at the moment). The sweetness of the Munich and Honey Malt comes in a little bit later, preventing it from getting too bitter. The body also is not too thick, making it probably easier drinking than it should be.
Overall: This is most certainly an English IPA, a style I’m not a huge fan of. The herbal, piney hops are distinctive, and there is most certainly no citrus going on. Though this experiment does not confirm these hops are Cluster, it does confirm they are not some of the typical Northwest hops like Cascade, Columbus, Simcoe etc.

Train Wreck IPA

The Process

To best bring out the aroma and the taste of the hops, we wanted a fairly simple grain bill.
Specifics: 23 litre batch, 89% extraction efficiency, ABV 7.4% O.G. 1.066, IBU Unknown, single infusion mash at 66.5 Celsius for 50 minutes

Gambrinus Pale Malt: 11 lb
Gambrinus Munich Light: 1 lb (to add a little bit of maltiness)
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 8 oz (to create a longer lasting head)
Flaked Barley: 8 oz (to increase the body)
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 4 oz (I love this malt because it adds a very nice, sweet balance, especially in an IPA. It is used in varying amounts in nearly every one of our brews)

To ensure the hops were as fresh as they could be, we mashed and sparged the grains before picking the hops. Once the wort was collected, we brought it up to a boil for 30 seconds to ensure that we stopped all enzymes from breaking the sugars down into smaller compounds (if we did not do this, the wort would be too fermentable, and the beer would have a watery body once fermentation had finished). We turned off the propane burned and let the wort cool down, then we went off to spend 2 hours picking wild hops at Fishtrap Creek, a 7 minute walk from the homebrewery. We managed to collected 5 pounds of fresh hops. Once we finished picking them, we walked back to our homebrewery, and started adding the hops to the boiling wort.

Hop Schedule

75 minutes: 6 oz
30 minutes: 2 oz
20 minutes: 4 oz
15 minutes: 2 oz
10 minutes: 2 oz
5 minutes: 4 oz
1 minute: 4 oz

You might think the amount of hops we added is insanely high. Well, that is only partially true. Since they are fresh hops, they have not been dried, and a lot of their weight is still composed of water. Brief research seemed to indicated using a ratio between 1:4 to 1:6. This means if a recipe normally called for 1 oz of dried hops, you would add 4-6 oz of fresh hops. We used the more conservative 1:4 ratio.

Cluster Hops


Yeast: Poured onto a Nottingham yeast cake left from a pale ale.

7 days primary
18 days secondary
3 oz dry hopped for 14 days (same hops we picked, except they were dried)


One thought on “Train Wreck FreshHop IPA

  1. They’re as likely, surely, to be actual wild native American hops, ie (in your part of the world) Humulus lupulus var. lupuloides, as escaped commercial varieties …

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