Since we started this little blog right around the time of hop harvest and the annual onslaught of Fresh Hop Ales, I found it fitting to give a little description of what defines a ‘fresh hop’ ale or beer.
First things first–Any fresh hop brew can only be brewed during the annual hop harvest. Now, just like harvest season at the wineries, that fresh hop season all depends on the year’s weather. Traditionally, the harvest for the first batch of hops comes during late August or early September.
Now on to what defines a Fresh Hop ale/brew??? Any fresh hop ale/brew must be brewed using only hops that are less than one day off the bine. Yep, that’s not a typo–hops actually grow
on bines and not vines–save that for the grapes 🙂 So these hops must be used within 24 hours of their harvest. You may actually hear these brews defined as ‘Wet Hop Ales’ too because when the hops actually come off the bines, they are still wet. Same concept.
Traditional hops are compressed into a dried, pellet form. Kind of like rabbit food at the zoo but much tastier. So these fresh hops are thrown directly into the brewing process in their freshest form and that allows these Fresh Hop beers to derive their own unique characteristics. Maybe a little more floral, maybe a slight note of spice–but all in all, it’s a great variation of existing beers and unique beers in their own rights.
For those who didn’t know a little factoid about Washington State—we grow approximately 75% of the United States’ supply of hops…so enjoy all these great Pacific Northwest craft beers.
Obviously it all comes down to taste but a couple worthwhile and fantastic Fresh Hop beers to look for and try:
- Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale: Don’t let the label and release date fool you–this is not a dark winter ale!!
- Fresh Hop Mirror Pond Ale (Deschutes Brewery): Mirror Pond is one of the better of the mass produced ales but this version takes it to another level. Enjoying this one right now. Deschutes also has Fresh Hop Inversion IPA, Twilight Ale, Spencer’s Gold, Oktoberfest and Chainbreaker White IPA on tap at their brewhouse in Bend, Oregon
- Elysian Brewing (Seattle)/New Belgium (Fort Collins CO) Trip X Fresh Hop IPA (Nicknamed the ’72 Eldorado’: The collaborations between Elysian and New Belgium have produced some great beers–this VERY recently released fresh hop IPA won’t disappoint.