You Owe It To Yourself To Try These 8 Wet-Hopped Beers cover

You Owe It To Yourself To Try These 8 Wet-Hopped Beers

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Have you ever wanted to like IPAs but just couldn't due to the overt bitterness that often accompanies the style? Have you ever thought about trying a wet-hopped or fresh-hopped beer? Or, did you just automatically avoid it thinking you were just getting another bitter brew?
If you did, you're missing out.





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You Owe It To Yourself To Try These 8 Wet-Hopped Beers

Dried Hops

Have you ever wanted to like IPAs but just couldn't due to the overt bitterness that often accompanies the style?

Have you ever thought about trying a wet-hopped or fresh-hopped beer? Or, did you just automatically avoid it thinking you were just getting another bitter brew?

If you did, you're missing out.

Most beers are brewed with dried hops. After the hops are harvested they are taken and dried either as whole flowers or crushed into pellets. These can then be used throughout the year until the next harvest.

Fresh Hops

Fresh Hops

Now wet-hopping is a whole other kettle. Instead of the hops going off to be dried and processed, the freshly picked flowers are loaded into refrigerated trucks and taken directly to a brewery within 48 hours to be immediately added to the brewing process.

Lighter and Smoother

Now some of you may be going now wait a minute … wouldn’t that make the hops stronger?

Actually, no. Fresh hops create lighter, smoother and more subtle grassy and citrus flavors.

The styles of beer brewers will use are only the backbone to the flavor profile. The mild malt tones provide an excellent platform to boost the hops to their best. If the brewer isn’t careful, the malts will overwhelm the batch and the brew will lose any bright hop presence.

Focus

Not all breweries use only wet hops in their wet-hopped beer, but don’t get discouraged.

The recipes used focus on bringing forth the unique notes that wet-hopping brings to beer and only use other hops to compliment and boost the flavor profiles they are wanting.

Here are some of 2015's best wet-hopped brews from breweries across the country and Canada. Keep this list around for 2016's hop harvest so you can hunt these down yourself!

The Wobblies

-Calicraft Brewing Company, Walnut Creek, CA

The Wobblies

Calicraft Brewing Company is a California inspired brewery whose mission statement is to push the boundaries of beer using California sourced ingredients. Zac Taylor, Calicraft’s sales and marketing manager relayed that:

"It’s only natural to take advantage of wet hops since they are available from farms a few hours away. Wet hop ales have a distinctive fresh and vegetal flavor that we really like. The Wobblies imperial wet hop ale commemorates California’s hop growing history. We use California cluster hops as they were the primary hop grown in the late 18th century."

The Wobblies (Cont.)

After the Hop Riots of 1913 and prohibition was enacted, hop growing moved up to Oregon and Washington.

However, the history of California hop growing remains in the names of places such as Hopland, Hopyard Road in Pleasanton, and Sloughhouse near Sacramento.

Hops-meister Farm in Clear Lake, California and Hip Hops Farm in Atwater, California are two farms where Calicraft harvests their hops. Additionally, they have their own 50 yards of cascade and California cluster hops. They are also seeking to work with United Hops in Yuba City next year.

The Wobblies (Cont.)

In order to brew a wet-hop beer, there is a lot of coordination that has to be done to start the brewing right when the hops are ready.

The hops are picked up at 6 a.m. and driven straight to the brewery at 10 a.m. with a coordinated mash time. The Wobblies is available once a year in 22 ounce bottles and draught in very limited quantities. It'll be available in November this year.

When asked if they felt the hop craze would continue, they heartily agreed that with the craze of hops right now, brewers will continue to push the flavor and aroma range of hops. Wet hops are very much a part of that. In addition, more hop farms continue to pop up in California which will increase the availability of wet hops for California breweries.

Hop Seeker Wet-Hopped Ale

To the rest of the world harvest time means that the crops such as corn, pumpkins, squash etc.

"Not for brewers, though," said Jeremy J. Hunt, head brewer. "We have one thing on our minds when the word harvest is used. Hops!"

Because of that, Jeremy and Deep Ellum wanted to:

"Bring to our hood the best of this year's harvest. We have also been playing around with the idea of a unique hoppy beer that we will release on a quarterly basis. The first installment of that quarterly beer is Hop Seeker Wet-Hopped Ale! And rightfully so, we think."

Hop Seeker Wet-Hopped Ale (Cont.)

Using a traditional pale ale as the base and an effort to not overthink the beer and get in the way of the hops.

Deep Ellum wanted to brew a beer with a truly fresh character, rich with fresh citrus and tropical fruit. The hops needed to "steal the show," so in Hop Seeker a very simple malt bill was implemented to let the hops shine with all of their “sassy, hoppy might."

Ellum obtains his hops from Van Horn Farms in Moxee, Washington. The brewery starts planning the brewing of Hop Seeker six months in advance. With the anticipated harvest times between centennial and equinox being approximately two weeks apart, it all worked out beautifully.

Hop Seeker Wet-Hopped Ale (Cont.)

Copious amounts of fresh centennial were added for the hot-side.

Whirlpool and hopback created a huge citrus base. The timing allowed for fermentation prior to adding the equinox as a dry hop to boost the strong tropical fruit note to the finished brew.

Jeremy stated they felt that, "Equinox would blend well with the Centennial to bring a 'juicy' quality to the beer." The final product is then canned 12 ounce cans, as well as kegs, and distributed to their markets in Texas.

When asked about the continuation of the wet hop craze, Jeremy responded with this statement:

"As people get to know their neighborhood breweries, they'll come to understand the labor of love that a wet hop ale. It takes a lot of effort on the part of our brewers, to bring this beer to our thirsty friends. Plus, the beer is truly a farm to pint glass beer and I think that folks will respond to that!"

Deschutes Brewing

Deschutes Brewing, Bend, OR,

Deschutes Brewing

"Hop Trip" and "Chasin' Freshies"

Though most breweries only produce one wet-hopped beer, Deschutes likes to take advantage of being close to several local hop farms. In using the wet hops, the brewers try to capture oils that are mostly lost during the kiln drying process. Each individual beer is created to showcase the unique "fresh, green" quality of each hop variety.

Per Brewer Ben Kehs:

"Each fresh hop beer that we make has a slightly different vision. For example, Hop Trip has a well-rounded malt profile, with notes of caramel and toffee. We knew we needed a hop that would stand up to the sweetness and caramel of the malt, and chose crystal hops. The fruitiness of fresh crystals and the level of bitterness cuts the sweetness and brings everything into balance."

Deschutes Brewing (Cont.)

The hops used this year come from Sodbuster Farms in Salem, Oregon, the Steiner Hop Farm in Sunnyside, Washington, and Goschie Farms of Silverton, Oregon.

The hops are used in two places during the brewing process. The most common method is to load the fresh hops into the hopback, and pass the near-boiling wort through the hops on its way to the whirlpool. At the pubs they will sometime condition a beer on fresh hops after fermentation by transferring the beer to the fermenter and into a conditioning tank that has been prepped with fresh hops until it has achieved the desired flavor.

Deschutes Brewing (Cont.)

The final step is to take the beer off the hops into its final conditioning tank.

The two main beers are available in bottle and draft in their markets. The fresh hopped pub beers are pub exclusives or for fresh hop festivals.

When asked about the continuation of the wet hop craze, Jeremy responded with this statement:

"As people get to know their neighborhood breweries, they'll come to understand the labor of love that a wet hop ale. It takes a lot of effort on the part of our brewers, to bring this beer to our thirsty friends. Plus, the beer is truly a farm to pint glass beer and I think that folks will respond to that!"

Driftwood Beer

Driftwood Beer, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Driftwood Beer

Heading over the border to the first brewery in British Columbia to brew a wet-hopped beer we find Driftwood Beer. According to Gary Lindsay, Partner at Driftwood Beer, their decision to brew a wet-hopped beer was influenced by their head brewer and recipe collaborator, Jason Meyer.

"Jason saw a unique opportunity to partner with an emerging local hop farm, work with locally sourced and fresh ingredients to produce a beer style, ours was first released in Sept. 2009, that was beginning to emerge from some U.S. craft breweries that were ahead of the curve."

Driftwood Beer (Cont.)

Driftwood Beer chose centennial hops from Satori Cedar Ranch for the pine resin and juicy grapefruit flavor profile.

They chose an America IPA style because it is all about the hops.

The broad but simple malt body provides a perfect stage for the massive hop character to shine yet still retain a balance in the finished product. The hops are picked at Satori one day and brewed with the next.

For Driftwood, this is a very labor intensive process since their brewery system is designed for hop pellets, not whole leaf or cone hops.

Driftwood Beer (Cont.)

There is limited distribution of the final product. Some to private liquor stores, only a few casks and kegs for special events at the best local pubs and restaurants, and a reserved 100 liters for growler sales at the brewery itself.

As many others have indicated, Gary too felt that the wet hop beer craze would continue. He said, "as more local farmers are producing relevant and quality hops; craft brewers will always gravitate to this style when they can."

Video

Hop Sac

Ruhstaller, Sacramento, CA,

Hop Sac

For Ruhstaller, the opportunity to brew a wet- hopped beer presented itself when Marty and Claudia Kuchinski started growing hops about 50 miles from the brewery at the Kuchinski Hop Ranch in Lake County. It continues with the hops they and their farming partners grow in Sacramento at the Ruhstaller Farm & Yard and Utterback Farm in Sloughhouse.

They found that though wet-hopped beers are somewhat frightening and stressful to make, they are so wonderfully tasty that it is worth all the work that goes into them.

Hop Sac (Cont.)

"We wanted primarily to highlight the unique combination of variety, growing climate, growing region (aka terrior) and vintage (each year is different) that uniquely comes with a wet-hopped ale.

We found that there was so much flavor locked in the moisture in the leaves that we lose when we dry the hop … by brewing with wet hops we release the flavors within the leaves, that have been influenced by the air, soil, what we as farmers did or did not do … it’s a unique opportunity and one that is a year in the making." JE Paino, founder and general manager of Ruhstaller shared.

Hop Sac (Cont.)

In their brewing process only 100% wet hops are used, no dry hopping at all.

According to Paino, "we’ve found that this gives the beer a longer shelf life and it actually tastes better about two to four months after brewing and keeps it’s flavor for between 12 and 18 months."

This is especially good since they distribute throughout California, so immediate consumption is not a guarantee. The hop craze has definitely grown for this brewery, their production has increased every year since Ruhstaller has brewed Hop Sac.

Citra Wet Hop

Kurt & Stephen Hop Harvest at Loftus Ranches, Silver City Brewery, Silverdale, WA,

Citra Wet Hop

According to Don Spencer, brewmaster, the creative team at Silvercity Brewery were collectively fans of the wet-hopped beer style. They decided that they wanted to create their own that showcased the fresh hops while having the drinkability of a pale ale.

Citra Wet Hop (Cont.)

They chose the Citra hop from Loftus Ranches for its intense sweet citrus fruit notes distinctive to this variety.

In combining these hops with the lighter style pale ale, there would be no conflicting roast or yeast character to overwhelm the hop profile. Citra Wet Hop is distributed in Western Washington on draft and in limited 22 ounce bottles.

Spencer said:

"In our opinion Wet Hop beers and traditional Oktoberfest Lagers, which we do as well, have the biggest growth potential and frankly we are the most excited for of any other Fall offerings, eh hem Pumpkin beers."

Fresh Hop

Fresh Hop was first brewed by Ethan Osborne, head brewer, back in 2003. He wanted to capture the super fresh and grassy character that comes so wet hops and take advantage of that once a season opportunity. Both Osborne and owner Brian Dunn knew it wouldn’t be an easy feat, but they wanted to see first hand the difference between wet and pelletized hops. They haven't regretted the endeavor yet.

Fresh Hop (Cont.)

Osborne stated that he wanted the brew to stay around 6% ABV to keep it from having an overwhelming hop bitterness.

He kept the body, malt and bitterness on the moderate side of the chart which allowed for the brew to be lead with hop flavor and aroma.

This flavor profile was best achieved by using an American pale ale, which is a beer all about showcasing the hops. The hops that are used depend on what is available at the time from Yakima Chief Hops out of Yakima, Washington.

Fresh Hop (Cont.)

When the time comes around to brew Fresh Hop, Great Divide triples the brewers on staff due to the labor intensity of brewing a wet hop beer.

This style requires a lot of manpower due to the limited time frame one has to brew it after harvest. Once Fresh Hop is complete it is distributed to all of their normal locations across the county.

Both Ethan and Brian agree that, "The craze will continue to grow. It is a style of beer that can only be made once a year and who doesn't love rare shit".

Wet Hop Pale Ale

Gizmo Brew Works, Raleigh, NC

Wet Hop Pale Ale

Throughout this article, most of the responses from brewers, owners and employees have been summarized and quoted to create an easily readable article. In the case of Gizmo Brew Works, the entirety of the response will be given. The answers and history given by head brewer Joe Walton expresses the passion, creativity and willingness to take risks with no idea of what if any rewards there will be that is at the heart of the craft beer culture.

Wet Hop Pale Ale (Cont.)

Head brewer Joe Walton stated:

"I have always been a hop head, and in January this year I read the book 'For the Love of Hops: The practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops.' Upon its completion I was inspired enough to go to a local farm where I met Dan, who grows a few acres of hops, which is not very common in North Carolina. We hit it off and he agreed to sell me some rhizomes for the brewery."

Wet Hop Pale Ale (Cont.)

Walton continued:

"My original plan was to grow four to five 'token' plants at the brewery for experimentation and decorative purposes. The week before the Rhizome harvest, we had some equipment issues that left us unable to brew for several weeks.

After a little more research and the landlords blessing, we decided to use the down time to scrap the 'token' idea and build a small hop farm instead. Luckily, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into."

Wet Hope Pale Ale (Cont.)

Hop Plants at Gizmo Beer Works

Wet Hope Pale Ale (Cont.)

Futher, Walton addressed his team's process:

"My team of interns and I first dug a 110 foot trench out of red clay by hand. Next we bought planting soil and acquired our rhizomes from Dan. We were able to get 6 different varieties and had the space in the trench for a total of 38 plants."

10 Cascade, 8 Chinook, 5 Centennial, 5 Magnum, 5 Nugget, 5 Willamette plants make up the crops.

Wet Hope Pale Ale (Cont.)

"Once planted, we installed the trellis and an irrigation system. For the next 5 months we watched with disbelief as every single mound sprouted. We treated the farm as if it was a commercial farm, watering daily. By July they had reached the top.

We didn't expect much our first year, but we had enough cones to brew a batch of a Pale Ale. We still needed to supplement with some pellets, but the result given the odds against us was fantastic. Our hope is by year three we have enough to do an IPA with only the bittering addition requiring a supplemental addition."

The Hoppy Spirit