Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Hop Haus Brewery - Cocos Nucifera Coconut Porter

Cuckoo for coconut!
The first and foremost reason why I drink craft beer is taste. That's the bottom line, actually. If craft beer didn't taste better, I'd still be drinking macros. Of course, once I had my first, delicious, hoppy, flavorful craft beer (Stone's Arrogant Bastard), there was no turning back!

There are other reasons why I enjoy drinking craft beer. Here in Beervana, there's the thriving beer culture and the social aspect. Drinking tasty brews and hanging out with other craft beer aficionados is fun. It's also awesome to be able to support local brewers with my beer money.

There are lots of amazing Cinderella stories associated with craft beer. The tale typically goes like this: craft beer geek starts homebrewing and the hobby takes over his life. Next thing you know, he's got a fully operational micro brewery set up in his garage. He wins some local brewing competitions. Soon, he's distributing his beer out of the back of his station wagon. Fast forward a decade, and that beer geek is brewing zillions of barrels of fantastic suds, and he's a BILLIONAIRE! Hey! It's happened!

Tonight, I'm drinking a true microbrew. The Hop Haus Brewery is the working class dream of owner/brewer Steve Wesley. He's a heck of a nice guy, too. I had the opportunity to ask Steve a few probing questions about his fledgling brewery. Here's what Steve had to say:

1) How long have you been brewing beer? Where did you start and where have you been?

I did my first batch of homebrew with my roommate in our apartment in Clackamas in 1993. We got a extract kit and the basics to do what we figured would be a great clone of Black Butte Porter. Well after destroying the place with sticky steam and mess we did get an end product, and we thought is was pretty good after opening the first bottle. I believe after a few months, the remaining bottles were dumped down the drain! I would love to have a taste of that brew today just to know. So that is where it started, and I have been brewing off and on ever since. Did some competitions here and there over the years, but really got the bug to take this to the next level about 6 years ago.

2) What is your personal brewing philosophy?

I suppose it has been control what you can control and be anal about it! At the home brewing level many of the variables such as stable temperature, water chemistry, closed loop transfers etc...are a challenge; but you can control sanitation, quality ingredients, TLC, and as much as you can for good water and temperature. So that is what I have done; Number 1 - start with good brewing water.

3) What do you consider your biggest brewing influences?

Having never studied under a "brewmaster" or never been part of an organized brew crew or brewing club everything has been self taught over the 20 years. I have read plenty of books and read Zymurgy cover to cover every month. I think creating different unique specialty beers that you don't see everyday, and doing them well through a bit of trial and error. I know there are many breweries, but I suppose Rogue, Dogfish Head, Fort George, and ALL of the crazy beers I see at the brewfests I attend give me ideas. I like creating out of the box beers, but not so out there that nobody will want to drink them!

4) What are your current goals? Where do you see your brewing adventures taking you in the near future and beyond?

Start small, get established, secure the brand and the Brewtiful beers. Try to stand out a bit for interesting and quality small scale true nano craft specialty beers. Hopefully The Hop Haus builds its brand and people love the beers. A tap room of course would be awesome, but baby steps and dont get over my head to quickly....but hope to eventually make this the full time gig :) 

 5) You mentioned one of the beers you gave me won a medal. Details, please?

The Coconut Porter won the gold medal in the Oregon State Fair competition in 2013. I entered 4 in the NHC, and although I did not get through to the final round, I did get Silver Certificates on all four of them. It is subjective of course, but the judges notes over the years have really been the biggest help to transition from "homebrew" to quality beer that consumers of fine beer would buy.

6) What info would you like me to pass along to my readers?

Good question. I would love to say we are opening a tap room next week! Come by and enjoy a pint or two. Hopefully that will happen in the next year. For now, we are getting The Hop Haus name out there through some local distribution. Once I have the system up and running in the next couple weeks I have these folks one board to carry the beers...subject to change if they have not given up on me!! Green Dragon ( I brewed the coconut porter with the GDBC in June and we released in sold out in 4 days !); Hot Lips Pizza at the Stadium location (brown ale); Mojave Mexican restaurant in Gresham (chili mango of course); Bar Maven (SE PDX- both the porter and the chili mango); I have also talked with a lot of the local growler fill places too with great reception.

I'd like the thank Steve for taking the time to answer my questions and I certainly wish him success with The Hop Haus.

I'm going to skip my usual step-by-step review of Cocos Nucifera Coconut Porter. Let's just say I'd give it a medal, too! Beautiful pour with a creamy, mocha head. The coconut flavor is present but doesn't overpower. Hints of cocoa and coffee. Creamy finish. I'm thinking this would be FANTASTIC on nitro! Excellent brew and I'm giving it a solid BeerGuyPDX score of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4. Good stuff!

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