On sprawling farms clustered around Yakima and Willamette valleys, thousands of green Humulus lupulus vines snake vigorously skyward. A relative of marijuana, these hop plants produce resiny, cone-shaped flowers prized for their use as a bittering agent in beer. October is the traditional time for end-of-the-season harvesting and hops are no exception. That’s good news for beer lovers, as many breweries take advantage of the numerous Pacific Northwest hop farms, creating beers flavored by hops sourced 3-5 hours from the kettle boil. These beers typically have an aroma akin to that of a freshly-mowed lawn and the resinous and deep floral notes that hop heads love. Since Sept. 1, Peaks and Pints has tapped two to three fresh hop beers daily. It’s time to create a flight centered on fresh hop. Enjoy Craft Beer Crosscut 10.6.17: A Flight of Fresh Hops.
5.5% ABV, 35 IBU
Want to know what balance tastes like in a fresh hop beer? pFriem Family Brewers‘ Mosaic Fresh Hop Pale. Wafts of mango and citrus tease the senses just long enough before its assertive taste takes over with hits of lemon, pine and a slight tinge of blueberry. It finishes assertive, but soft.
6% ABV, 50 IBU
Fremont Brewing Co.’s “Field to Ferment” beer series and its fresh-hop brew from Cowiche Canyon are a big draw again this fall. It’s easier to find this year, since the brewery increased production from 1,200 barrels to 1,921 barrels for its “Field to Ferment” fresh-hop beers. Fresh, spring-like forest, this batch highlights Amarillo fresh hops with a nose of fresh pine and weed. The first sip is deep piney resin, with a light and crushable body, with some resinous sticky edges. Expect quintessential Northwest hop flavors.
6.2% ABV, 70 IBU
Two Beers Brewing Co. beats the entire world to fresh hops every year. Every year, the Seattle brewery races out to a Yakima Valley farm, picks fresh centennial hop vines for four hours then races back to its Seattle SoDo brewery where 40-plus volunteers pick the hops from the vines. A hyper seasonal, Two Beers Brewing’s Fresh Hop IPA features a juicy citrus aroma — offering hints of grapefruit and passion fruit — that can be, obviously, attributed to the fresh Yakima Valley-grown Centennial hops used to create it. Dark straw in color with light caramel malt tones, Fresh Hop resembles an aggressively dry-hopped IPA, but packing the punch and flavor only fresh hops can deliver.
7.6% ABV, 70 IBU
Each fall, Founders Brewing Co. gathers thousands of pounds of wet hop cones from Michigan hop growers then quickly brewing up its Harvest Ale, probably the most reliably great, widely distributed wet-hop ale. Resinous green hops are the calling card, with a bit of almost woodsy character and a touch of orange-like citrus. Expect subtle malt notes, but this Michigan fresh hop drinks like a classic west coast IPA.
5.3% ABV, 85 IBU
Gigantic Brewing landed its Lupulin Falcon at Sodbuster Farms in the Willamette Valley where the Portland brewery’s Hoptroopers picked citrusy Simcoe hops for the Sodbusted V: The Simcoe Strikes Back. The orange and citrus are strong with this one.