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Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011

Sprecher Releases Its Fresh Hop Amber Lager with a Party

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Early this fall Sprecher Brewery founder Randy Sprecher and vice-president Jeff Hamilton drove to a farm in Wausau to select 200 pounds of hops for something of an experiment: the first batch of the brewery's signature Special Amber beer made with fresh Wisconsin cascade hops instead of the Oregon hops the recipe typically uses. Hamilton admits he didn't quite know what to expect.

“We really weren't sure how it would turn out,” Hamilton says. “It was actually a lot of fun, though. We picked up the hops and brought them back ourselves because you have to use them quickly, within just a few hours of them coming off the field, otherwise they start to deteriorate and they're no good. So within a few hours we were processing them for a special version of our Special Amber, and the results turned out great."

Sprecher produced 40 barrels of its Wisconsin Fresh Hop Special Amber, which were distributed to about 20 bars around the state, mostly ones with extensive draft selections. The beer is also on tap at the three Sprecher restaurants around the state, and at the Sprecher Brewery. Though it was brewed using the same recipe as Sprecher's regular Special Amber, Hamilton says that to taste the two side by side there's no comparison.

“The Fresh Hops Special Amber is much more mellow,” he says. “It's got a creamer head, and a nice, fresh green flavor to it right up front. We've received such a good response to it, and had such demand for it, 
that we plan to increase the amount we make next fall. Really, we'd be trying to make it all year if we could, but the hops are only available once a year.”

To make sure beer lovers get a chance to sample it, the brewery is hosting a release party on Friday, Nov. 18. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and include a 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. brewery tour, a pint of Wisconsin Fresh Hop Special Amber and two additional pints of Sprecher beer, unlimited soda and a pint glass. There will also be music from The Lounge Lizards at 7 p.m., and a masskrugstemmen contest—a Bavarian strong-man challenge that involves holding a stein of beer in an extended arm for as long as possible.