Alright hop heads it’s my favorite time of the beer drinking year, fall. When the leaves turn and the temperatures start to drop I can’t help but think of the arrival of seasonal harvest brews. Harvest (or wet-hopped) beers are special because they utilize the freshest hops available to the brewer. The result is very much evident in the fresh flavor profiles of these once-a-year beers.
When hops are harvested they are typically dried and either kept in whole leaf form, or made into pellets or plugs. The drying process allows the hops to stay fresh for a longer period of time so brewers are able to make beer all year round. But once a year when the hops are ripe, brewers get a unique opportunity to use the freshest hops around.
Wet-hopped beers are different from most others in the fact that the hops never go through a drying process. The hops are picked straight from the vine and are immediately used by the brewer. The only way this works is that the hops have to be directly thrown in the brew kettle right after harvest time. Because the hops haven’t been dried, time is of the essence and you need to get them into the boil before they go bad.
The resulting beer is very much akin to using fresh herbs and spices as opposed to dried when cooking. The flavor is less biting and you can taste a “green-ness” that is unmatched. What you are looking for in a great harvest ale is that beautiful grassy hop flavor. It is for this reason that you DO NOT age these beers. Even after the beer has been bottled, the hop profile can die with age just like any other beer. We wouldn’t want that now would we?
Make sure to pick up your harvest beers from a reputable beer retailer that rotates selection often, this ensures you’re not getting last years batch. Not only that, but place them towards the front of the fridge so you don’t forget they’re there. There’s no such thing as drinking too much during the hop harvest season. Cheers from Hop Cast!
Some examples of wet-hopped beers to look for…
Three Floyds BrooDoo
Two Brother Heavy Handed IPA
Founders Double Trouble
Sierra Nevada Chico Estate Harvest Ale
Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale
Surly Brewing Wet