Each year Jon from Peak Organic travels around the State visiting hop farms to collect locally grown hops for his local harvest series. He asked people to join him at Elm Hill Farm to pick some hops. This was my chance to meet up with Jon and also to talk to Arthur – owner of Elm Hill Farm so I made the trek to Monroe, Maine. I arrived shortly after the 1:00 start time and there were several others on the farm. The weather forecast was for 90 degree heat and sun but when I arrived it was 70 and raining. Guess that is what you get when live in Maine. Arthur has a nice building with for harvesting the hops and had 2 tables setup with some hop vines already cut and waiting for us to pluck. After a short demonstration on how to properly detach the hop from the vine we were ready to go. About 15 people were there and everyone was very friendly chatting about beer, hops and anything else that came up.
There was also plenty of Peak Organic beer which certainly made the process that much more enjoyable. While we were busy in the shed Arthur went out to cut more vines and kept us busy for a little over an hour. At that point we had filled the hop drying bins and we were done for the day. Many of the helpers headed off to Monroe falls for a swim but I headed home as it was Friday and I wanted to start my weekend. Arthur’s farm produces hops that are used by many local breweries. The day before I was there Atlantic Brewing was there picking up their hops and the week before Sebago Brewing took a bunch for their local harvest beer. At this point there are 5 or 6 viable hop farms in Maine producing a very small amount of hops but the brewers seem eager to use everything they can produce in their brewing. Hopefully farmers and craft beer enthusiasts will continue to plant and grow hops in the Northeast so we can be a little more self sufficient and provide the many craft brewers in Maine with a quality product they can use in their beer.
If you have a chance to attend a brewers hop picking party go for it. Sure to be lots of fun as you will be around others that enjoy craft beer.
Picked this beer up at Bootleggers in Topsham and enjoyed it after work. I am a sucker for anything with the word Hop in the name and I generally like Black IPAs. This one did not disappoint with a truly black appearance and two finger tan head. Aroma has lots of citrus and resinous hops, maybe a little roasted malt but mostly hops. Taste is complex with lots going on; resin hops, citrus hops, a bit of chocolate sweetness. Not sure everything works so well together but overall it is a tasty brew. One thing that stands out is the lack of alcohol taste or smell even with the 8.2% ABV. No indication of this even as the beer warms which is impressive.
Overall this is a nice example of a black IPA but I still find the various flavors competing instead of complementing one another. Certainly a beer you should try if you like the style.
Pros: Flavorful, alcohol is well hidden
Cons: Competing flavors
Alcohol Content: 8.2% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): 98
Brewers Website: Peak Organic
Brewers Description: Hop Noir is a delectable Black IPA, dripping with piney, aromatic Centennial hops. The malt base is dark and rich, anchored by organic black malt. This provides a strong foundation for the extravagant kettle hopping and dry-hopping that this beer experiences. Enjoy with a night-light.
SUGGESTED FOOD PAIRINGS: Brie, grilled vegetables, lamb shank, pungent cheeses
This is another first for me as I have yet to review anything from Peak Organic even though their beer is readily available in my area. Sometimes there are just too many choices, eventually I will get to more from Peak but this was a good start. When I opened and started drinking this one I was expecting an IPA, not sure why as it is described everywhere as an American Pale Ale so the taste seemed a bit off but it was simply my expectation. Appearance is a nice amber red with thick tan head and lots of big bubbles. Aroma has a bit of everything, citrus, malt and light hops but nothing overpowering. Flavor is about the same as the aroma, nothing that overpowers the other but I would have preferred a bit more hop. Overall a very drinkable beer that support Maine growers but not as good as Sebago’s Local Harvest. May try to find the other Local Series options for comparison.
Pros: Easy to drink
Cons: Light on the hops
Alcohol Content: 6.9% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): 67
Brewers Website: Peak Organic
Brewers Description: This series is a celebration of tasty local ingredients and distinctive terroir. We brewed four beers, each with barley and hops from one particular state (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York). Each beer in the series was brewed according to a similar recipe, to achieve an ale that is assertively-hopped and dry-hopped, but also bold in its malt character. Since the recipe is consistent, the flavor difference in each beer results from the distinctive local terroir. Working with skilled farmers to craft this series has been an exceptional experience for us. We hope you enjoy the result.