The rumors are true. We’re making a Fresh Hop Beer. Here’s the inside scoop on all things Fresh Hop and our beer in particular.
A Fresh/Wet Hop beer is a seasonal specialty utilizing freshly harvested hops before they are kiln dried. Wet hops differ from kiln dried hops in their aroma, flavor and bitterness contributions providing plenty of opportunity for brewers to get creative with their use.
North American hops are harvested in the early fall and brewing with the first hops of the year has become an anticipated tradition for many brewers. Using hops at the peak of their ripeness and without the addition of kilning heat (which can strip flavor and aroma) provides a clear picture of what the hop flower is providing.
Most hops in North America are grown in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Washington and Oregon, but Montana also sits at prime latitude for hop cultivation. This year we are excited to be working with Tom Britz and his crew up at Glacier Hops Ranch. They are in the process of growing and plotting future hop acres just outside of Whitefish, MT. When Tom came into the brewery and invited us to select some fresh hops we were intrigued and after visiting his operation we are excited to see how far they can go. You will be hard pressed to find a more picturesque hop farm anywhere.
When examining the hop fields there were a handful of varieties that stood out to us but we eventually settled on harvesting Chinook, Brewers Gold, and Yeoman based on their aroma and lupulin content. The idea of this project is all about freshness so we immediately drove the harvested hops home and had them in the brewing process within 24 hours.
The increased water weight and volume that fresh hops have provide additional challenges to the brewday. Mesh bags allow us to “steep” the hops in areas of our process that otherwise couldn’t have hops introduced for processing difficulties. In the end, we added the fresh hops to the Mashtun, Kettle, Whirlpool, and Fermenter at a ratio of about 7lbs/bbl of beer (1bbl=31gallons).
To showcase the hop flavor and aroma without dulling or overpowering their nuances, we brewed an American Pale Ale. At 5% ABV and 40 IBU’s this beer will be crisp and refreshing providing a great canvas for the fresh, local hop flavor and aroma.
The opportunity to brew with fresh hops is a treat that only comes around once a year (unless you are able to source Southern Hemisphere Hops) so we recommend you try this as soon as possible. It is a limited release that will be available at the brewery and select local accounts. If you don’t have the opportunity to try our fresh hop beer look for a local festival in your area as we will also be participating in the Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Fesitval on Oct 3rd.