Hops are the spice of beer, providing flavor and aroma. They also add bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malt, and they increase the shelf life of the finished beer. This time of year, many American breweries are putting out pales and IPAs that have been hopped with fresh, whole-leaf hops straight from the fields. What this practice does is imbue the beer with a greener, grassier, stinkier hop character that is just about the freshest-tasting beer experience you can have. For the past couple of days Peaks and Pints has turned our daily beer flight into a flight of freshness, offering five 5-ounce pours of fresh hop craft beers. Why stop now? Enjoy Craft Beer Crosscut 10.9.17: A Flight of More Fresh Hops.
Fremont Field to Ferment Amarillo
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, especially after the Seattle brewery grabbed gold for its fresh hop series at the 2017 Great American Beer festival over the weekend. 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.
6% ABV, 80 IBU
Maritime Pacific’s annual XPA Fresh Wet Hop Pale is bright and hoppy this year made with hundreds of pounds of fresh Amarillo hops from the Sunshine Ranch of Gamache & Sons in Toppenish, Washington. With APA, the dominant bitter characteristics come from Amarillo, known for tropical and citrus tones with hints of orange, grapefruit and lemon. The citrus bitterness of the Amarillo hops is assertive without overwhelming the palate with a mild caramel-bready maltiness in the background. We enjoy its solid hop signature with crisp lemon, orange and grapefruit tones.
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.