Fresh Hop Beers

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Blog friend Annie S. asked me about fresh hop beer recently while we were knocking back a few malt beverages. I mentioned that they are generally only available in the spring and fall, right around harvest time for hops.

In case you are not familiar with fresh hop beers, they tend to have a very robust and green hop flavor and need to be consumed within about 6 weeks of production before the hop flavor starts to fade. Most beers use a dried form of hops and do not suffer from this issue.

I happened to be surfing the interweb recently and noticed that our friends at Seattle Met magazine had a story about fresh hop beers.
So for Annie and any other readers out there (all 5 of you) who care, here is some info on fresh hop beer s and where/when they will be available:

Once again, Two Beers is the first out of the gate on this; the brewery’s Fresh Hop 2012 started flowing in the SoDo taproom over the weekend, and is now surfacing outside the brewery. It’s the earliest release yet for its beer. Big Al Brewing also does a fresh hop brew each fall; the Santiam hops are being picked this very morning, and are destined for a batch of Big Al Brewing Harvest Ale, a malty amber, later this afternoon.

Fremont Brewing gets its hops from a one-acre plot in Yakima Valley’s Cowiche Canyon, half of which is dedicated to its Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop ale. The brewery is hoping to release this year’s version the first week of October, but like a restaurant opening, such matters are moving targets. Schooner Exact, 7 Seas, Big Time, and Iron Horse have also done fresh hop brews in past years.

Not surprisingly, Oregon breweries like them some fresh hop, too. Geoff Kaiser of Seattle Beer News and the excellent Noble Fir bar in Ballard put on an annual Oregon vs. Washington fresh hop throwdown, where 15 versions battle for crowd supremacy. This year’s hop bonanza happens Saturday, September 29. Get there early, brace yourself for a line, and be assured that what awaits inside is completely worth the wait. Not surprisingly, Yakima is also home to a Fresh Hop Ale Festival happening October 6.

One that I would love to get my hands on – Laughing Dog Brewing’s Fresh Hop. They picked 150 lbs. of hops by hand this past week to go into the beer. Hopefully it shows up in Washington

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