Why it’s a Great Time of the Year for Hop Lovers

by Karl | Last Updated: September 21, 2010

 The wise beer drinker should not practice sobriety between September and November. It’s during these months that wet hop beers debut, and they are some of the tastiest beers around.

Wet hop beers are commonly known as wet hop ales, fresh hop ales, or harvest ales (even though wet hop lagers are also brewed). These beers are brewed once per year, immediately following the annual hop harvest in late summer/early fall.

Typically, hops are dried and processed before they are shipped to brewers. Drying must take place quickly to prevent the beautiful green cones from turning brown. For this reason, fresh hops must be used within hours of being picked to avoid spoilage.

This makes using fresh hops extremely tricky. Breweries without a hop farm in the area must ship them immediately to use in their wet hop ales. The clock is ticking.

Why brew wet hop ales? Once you have one you’ll understand. They give off a remarkably perfumey aroma and floral flavor. To put it bluntly, they taste fresh. I find that they are less bitter and more fragrant than dried hops. If you’re a hop head, these beers are your dream.

Wet Hop Beers

Sierra Nevada started the wet hop beer trend in 1996 with their Harvest Ale. Since then, they’ve put out a much anticipated Harvest Ale annually. Other breweries have jumped on the bandwagon and produced their own interpretations.

Here’s a big list of wet hop beers:

**Note: I’m going to update this list throughout the season. If there are some missing, and I’m sure there are, please let me know down in the comments and I’ll add it.

  1. Snipes Mountain Harvest Ale (Sunnyside, WA) – Using fresh amarillo hops, this wet hop ale won 2nd place at the 2008 Fresh Hop Ale Festival in Yakima, WA.
  2. Full Sail Lupulin and Hopfrenfrisch (Hood River, OR) – 2 versions of Lupulin are brewed with 2 different hop varieties. Hopfrenfrisch is a wet hopped pilsner.
  3. Rogue Ales Chatoe Rogue (Portland, OR) – Rogue uses 2,200 lbs from 5 different varities of fresh hops. The hops are grown on their 42 acre farm in Oregon, 77 miles from the brewery.
  4. Rogue Issaquah Wet Frog (Portland, OR)
  5. Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Pond (Portland, OR)
  6. Pelican Brewing Elemental Ale (Pacific City, OR) – This ale uses 450 lbs of wet hops grown at Goschie Farms in Silverton, Oregon.
  7. Deschutes Hop Trip Pale Ale – 680 lbs of Crystal hops go into each batch of this crowd favorite ale.  (Thanks to Brad and Big Tex for the tip, and this video from Big Tex)
  8. Bridgeport Hop Harvest (Portland, OR) – Like Pelican, these hops were grown at Goschie farms in Silverton, Oregon. 400 lbs of Centennial hops were added to the kettle hours after harvest to make this wet hop ale.
  9. Ska Brewing Hoperation Ivy (Durango, CO) – We only have a sole tweet to go by for this beer.
  10. Left Hand Brewing Ivy (Longmont, CO) – Left Hand uses Colorado grown Cascade and Warrior hops to make this 7.6% abv IPA.
  11. Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale – I was able to attend the release party for this one. This beer causes a buzz each year, and nothing will change this time .
  12. Sierra Nevada 14th Edition Harvest Ale (Chico, CA) – The harvest ale that started it all. Centennial and Cascade hops are shipped from Yakima, WA to Chico to make this kingly beer.
  13. Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale (Chico, CA) – Sierra Nevada’s first USDA certified organic beer. The barley and hops are grown on the brewery’s property.
  14. Pizza Port High Tide (Multiple SoCal locations) – A highly rated fresh hop IPA from a family of breweries that rarely disappointments.
  15. Founders Harvest Ale (Grand Rapids, MI) – Cascade and Amarillo hops tag-team this local favorite out of Michigan. Good review on Slashfood.
  16. Goose Island Harvest Ale (Chicago, IL) – *Potentially misleading name. Ugly cross out until investigation is complete. An American version of an Extra Special Bitter (ESB) made with Cascade hops and Midwestern malt.
  17. Brau Brothers Hundred Yard Dash Fresh Hop Ale (Lucan, MN) -Cascade, Centennial, Sterling, Mt. Hood, and Nugget hops are grown 100 yards from the brew kettle to make this wet hop ale.
  18. Southern Tier Harvest Ale (Lakewood, NY) – A seasonal favorite from Southern Tier, their Harvest Ale is an ESB made with fresh English hops.
  19. Harpoon Glacier Harvest Wet Hop Ale (Boston, MA) – From Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series, a pale ale made with wet Glacier (duh) hops grown in upstate NY and driven to Boston. (Props to Heather in the comments for the tip)
  20. Weyerbacher Harvest Ale (Easton, PA) – Unlike past years where dry hops have been added due to poor yields, this year’s release is 100% wet hops. Here’s a cool video of the harvest.
  21. Flying Dog Fresh Hop Ale (Frederick, MD) – I haven’t found out much about this beer, but Alexander offers his review. Also check out this video about the hop harvest.

 

What wet hop ales have you had? What do you like about them?

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