On sprawling farms clustered around Yakima and Sunnyside, 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. The fall hop harvest is in full stride in Washington state. That means a steady increase in fresh hop brewing in the weeks ahead and into October, in which the moisture level in hops have reached the optimum 80 percent level and are picked fresh from fields. While Willamette and Centennial hops have been a bit disappointing, YCH Hops — a 100 percent grower-owned, global hop supplier based in Yakima with operation in Sunnyside, Washington — says Simcoe hops should meet production expectations.
Wet Coast Brewing Company in Gig Harbor knows this, and brewers Bryan Copeland and Aaron Johnson are knee deep in fresh Simcoe hops from YCH Hops, after a stint at YCH subsidiary HopUnion’s Hop & Brew School for a refresher on the inner magic of hops. The hops of their labor will be released in a couple weeks when their Fresh Hop Ale hits their taproom.
In the meantime, their recently released Milk Stout has produced sweet results, both in terms of quality and popularity, in part due to the recent change in weather. A little rain, a little wind, and roasted, malty sweetness make for a great pairing.
WET COAST BREWING CO., 3-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, 6820 Kimball Dr., Gig Harbor, 253.432.4966