I just tasted Hop Jack Pale Ale, made by the Widmer Brothers Brewery in Portland, Oregon. Would you have a clue how to replicate it?
Widmer Brothers opened in 1984 in Portland. The brewery was founded by brothers, Rob and Kurt Widmer. After living in Germany during the 1970s, Kurt returned to America inspired to recreate some of the European beer styles he had enjoyed while abroad. Kurt’s quest took him back to Düsseldorf to study beer styles, and he came home with some special brewing yeast from Weihenstephan in Bavaria. Widmer still uses this yeast today.
The Widmer brewery has made a name for itself with its flagship American-style Hefeweizen. And the tasty hefe isn’t the only great beer that Widmer makes: Hop Jack Pale Ale has been a Northwest favorite since the company started brewing it in March 1998. Rob Widmer was kind enough to give us some insight on how to brew this wonderfully hoppy brew.
Rob calls Hop Jack a “Northwest pale ale,” which Widmer’s profile sheet describes as a pale ale that is aggressively hopped for substantial bitterness and potent floral hop aroma, with just enough malt sweetness for balance. Rob adds that there is a “citrus quality and piney note” from the Cascade and Centennial hops in Hop Jack; I’ve tasted the beer many times, and the citrus-pine note is delicious and unique.
When it comes to homebrewing this beer, Rob stresses using a large amount of fresh yeast. A pitchable vial of yeast from White Labs or Wyeast would be the minimum amount of yeast, and increasing the quantity by either making a starter or using two liquid vials would be even better. There are a lot of hop additions in this beer, so pay attention to the timing of each addition. The hops are critical to successfully replicating this beer.
For more information about Widmer beers, check out the Website at www.widmer.com or call Widmer at (503) 841-2437.