Podcast Episode 161: For Matt Lincoln of Fremont, Fresh-Hop Beers Are Labors of Love

Fremont’s audacious approach to fresh-hop brewing produced about 2,500 barrels of the true seasonal last year. Getting 70,000 pounds of fresh hops from field to the brewhouse is no small challenge, but that’s only the start…

Jamie Bogner Nov 15, 2020 - 5 min read

Podcast Episode 161: For Matt Lincoln of Fremont, Fresh-Hop Beers Are Labors of Love Primary Image

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Seattle’s Fremont Brewing is known for fresh-hop beers, and over the past decade they’ve engaged in a level of problem-solving (on both the logistical and technical sides) that may be unmatched. What started as a small organic experiment with a well-established hop farm has turned into a yearly logistical dance, as harvesters, trucks, and brew staff work in concert to pick hops at the right time, transport them at the right temperature, and get them into batches at just the right moment.

In this episode, brewing director Matt Lincoln—who has been with the brewery since day one—explains both the operational challenges of such an ambitious fresh-hop program and how they manage fresh hops throughout the brewing process. Whether it’s planning their brewing volume based on the season’s yield, using their lauter tun as a hopback with moving rakes to aid extraction, or tweaking temperatures to ensure the best outcomes, Fremont has learned much over the past decade of brewing these beers at scale.

The conversation also moves through how the brewery’s approach to hoppy beers has evolved, pushing more and more hot-side hops into the whirlpool to retain aromatics while still achieving the right amount of isomerization for their unapologetically bitter IPAs. Yeast expression is of particular importance, as is managing hop creep, and Lincoln discusses both in depth. Later, he pivots to discuss their approach to barrel-aging and blending acclaimed beers such as B-Bomb.

Fresh-hop beers are expensive to make, with difficult challenges to overcome, as brewers and growers manage tricky constraints in time and temperature—but few brew them as well as Fremont does. When you listen to Lincoln explain it, you’ll understand why.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].