Fresh Hop Beers Are Now Easy To Pick Up, Hard To Pin Down | The Weekly Source

Mercurial. This is perhaps the most defining aspect of freshly hopped beers that are not a specific beer or flavor, but a shape-shifting target. When a beer contains fresh (aka “wet”) hops (as opposed to the oven-dried, usually pelletized hops that all breweries rely on year-round), it’s not defined by its brewery or style, but by the fact that it is entirely agricultural. As such, as with all terroir-focused consumables, there is a wide range of changes that can often lead hop-fresh beers not to a brewer’s desired destination, but to the whimsical one of Mother Earth. Their inherent beauty is that freshly picked hops must reach a brewery’s boiling kettle within 24 hours, but ideally even sooner, lest the volatile compounds in the hop flower degrade.

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What this means for us in the Pacific Northwest, where virtually 99% of the hops are grown, is that our breweries are capable of producing them. Add to this that the hops are only harvested at the end of the summer. So these beers — usually IPAs, but any style of beer where the brewer wants to showcase the tangy emeralds of the Willamette or Yakima Valleys — are exclusively a liquid delicacy available here, right now.

Some of them have put already cherished hop varietals on a pedestal, like Crux Fermentation Project’s Crosby Strata Fresh Hop IPA, which pays homage to Crosby Hop Farm in the Valley. Hops are celebrated for their balance of sweeter fruit notes (berries and passion fruit) combined with finer, herbaceous qualities (sage!).

Crux’s beer was included in a small, informal blind tasting conducted at Source Weekly’s headquarters and our thirsty judges, mercifully, offered ratings across the spectrum. Some found it creamy, others found it quite bitter. One was struck by the “juicy fruit” flavor of the beer while another noted that it tasted like “green matter”.

Taste, of course, is subjective, but the fun factor in fresh hop beers is that different palates really pick up on varying qualities, all of which are to be expected in such offerings.

Perhaps the favorite beer sampled was Boss Rambler’s Azacca Shaka Hazy IPA. Azacca is much newer to the scene as a whole, a varietal marked by bright notes of mango and other tropical fruits with a more diminished citrus kick than many classic PNW hops. Although the beer also contains Strata as well as Citra Lupomax (think Citra hop-based hashish), its 10 pounds of fresh Goschie Farms Azacca is the centerpiece and the beer’s smooth, smooth flavor and feel. on the palate were a general success. The most targeted comment was “Limoncello”.

Of course, some brewers may get their hands on experimental hops, those that haven’t been officially patented or named and are only available for trial use at select breweries. Naturally, a brewery the size of Deschutes means it can get its hands on just about anything it desires and, luckily for us, it wanted Experimental 1320. For this beer drinker’s taste buds, it’s reminiscent of another newer variety called BRU-1 in that it smells like fresh pineapple. . Each of the judges felt transported to a tropical island as they drank Experimental 1320 Fresh Hop IPA, available from both the Deschutes Brewery and the Tasting Room. It’s topped off with a peppery kick perhaps due to a more phenolic yeast strain and/or the sharpness derived from wet hops which, understandably, can taste a bit like chewing flower stems. In the right direction.

Also formally under the Deschutes umbrella, Boneyard’s Out on Bale (brewers love hop puns and it’s a nod to hop bales) is the only Imperial IPA in our roundup. Although it weighs 8.5% ABV, Simcoe’s fresh hops give it a smoother stone fruit direction than you might expect from a stronger beer, and it actually reminded the judges Silver Moon’s Hydrosphere Fresh Hop IPA, built up to 6.7% and built on fresh Mosaic hops which ultimately drove the beer more towards strawberry than the guava nectar this judge often associates with this varietal. Both were among the “smoothest” and easiest drinking beers we considered.

One of the most polarizing beers sampled was Sunriver’s D’Kine, hopped using damp Mosaic hops from Coleman Agriculture. I usually associate hops with juicy guava, but in the case of this beer, a pronounced bitterness and funkity shone through. It featured more bong water aroma than the GoodLife 150 Hippies, which was also part of the range, which prompted several comments about being a “coffee” quality. Given its leafy astringency, the Amarillo hops that go into this beer can sometimes throw out huge orange and grapefruit notes but in this case, offer more pine resin and sandalwood.

For hop lovers, these ephemeral beers are the Beaujolais Nouveau equivalent of wines.

About Lucille Thompson

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