Fresh Hop Beer!

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Fresh Hop Beer!

Fresh hops

Fall is in full swing and that means it’s time for some great seasonal beers! Pumpkin beer, you say? Well those are certainly plentiful and popular these days. But there is another breed of beer this time of the year that may fly under the radar, considering the huge influx of pumpkin and field beers that swamp the market as summer ends. Those would be fresh hop beers! Unlike pumpkin beers, fresh (or wet) hop beers don’t arrive in large masses, and there is a reason why.

Almost all beers have hops in them. Hops added at the beginning of the boil contribute to the bitterness of the beer, which is necessary in some degree to offset the sweetness of the malt. Hops added toward the end of the boil contribute to the aroma and flavor of the beer. This is where the fresh hops come in.

The majority of breweries use pellet hops, which are made of shredded and compressed dried hop cones. By shredding the cones, the oils from lupulin glands of the hop cones are exposed and extracted. Compressing the hop cones concentrates the precious oils and allows for more vegetable matter to be removed. The compressed pellets save space, and are less susceptible to spoiling compared to dried whole cone hops. However, pellet hops lose some of their aromatic qualities in the process.

Some breweries will use dried whole cone hops in their beers. Whole cone hops are known to provide greater aroma and flavor to beer than hop pellets.

Sierra Nevada is well known for using dried whole cone hops in all of their beers. This means that they need a whole lot more space to store their hops, and must keep them refrigerated to prevent the hops from spoiling. Dried whole cone hops are generally harder for breweries to acquire, so large breweries like Sierra Nevada need to contract well ahead with hop farmers in order to ensure they will have enough in supply.

Fresh, or wet whole cone hops are even harder to come by. They are really only fresh within a day or so of harvesting, and must be used right away. Also, since they lack the concentration of dried hops, a larger amount must be used to provide an equivalent hop presence as dried hops. Fresh hops will generally add a hint of grassiness to the beer, as more fresh vegetable matter comes in contact with the beer. However, they also provide an intense, bright hop flavor and aroma to the beer that hop lovers crave! Harvest season only comes around once each year, and the vast majority of harvested hops are used to make hop pellets or are dried for use by breweries throughout the year. So beers made with fresh hops are in short supply, and aren’t around for very long. Get ‘em while you can!

Here are a few of our favorites:

Left Hand Brewery Warrior IPA:

Hops: Fresh Colorado Cascade hops

ABV: 7.3%

$6.49 for a 22oz bottle


Ska Brewery Hoperation Ivy IPA:

Hops: Fresh Colorado Cascade hops

ABV: ??? (6.5-7.5%?)

$8.49 for a 22oz bottle


Bonfire Farmer Wirtz IPA:

Hops: Fresh Colorado Chinook and Nugget hops.

ABV: 7%

Normally $10.99 for a 6pk of cans, but on sale through the month of October at $8.99 for a 6pk.


Sierra Nevada Harvest single hop IPA:

Hops: Fresh Equinox hops.

ABV: 6.5%

$6.49 for a 24oz bottle