LATE SUMMER’S THE SEASON FOR FRESH HOP-BEERS
Although there is no official date in the calendar that marks the beginning of the fresh hop beer season (it depends on each harvest), it usually coincides with the end of summer, at the time of year when the hop flowers harvest begins and continues during the autumn months.
PRACTICALLY ALL THE BEERS CONTAIN PROCESSED HOPS
Practically all the beers brewed worldwide contain dried and processed hops. This means that once hop flowers (or cones) are picked and separated these are sent quickly to a drying oven, or occasionally they are air dried outdoors. After this they are packaged, most of the time processed into pellets because they are easier to store and preserve, and conserved at very low temperatures, which allows to extend their useful life up to a year or even longer.
It should also be noted that using pellets in brewing makes dosage easier due to their physical characteristics, and also make automatically controlled brewing possible. Hence brewing with fresh cones is a more complex process.
WHAT’S NEEDED TO QUALIFY AS “FRESH-HOP BEER”?
to qualify as “fresh or wet hop beer
The fresh cones that are used to make the fresh-hop beers, however, are not processed. But what requirements does a beer have to fulfill so that it can be considered a fresh-hop beer?
Despite the fact that there is no clear definition to what exactly a fresh-hop beer is, most brewers agree that it is a beer made with freshly harvested, unprocessed hops (which allows all its properties to be preserved) and used within 24-48h from its harvest. Thanks to this much fresher and subtle notes are obtained, and the unique herbal and floral nuances of the plant are highlighted.
These beers must be served and consumed extremely fresh to avoid the loss of the volatile components of aroma and flavor that characterize them. Also it must be mentioned that when speaking of fresh-hop beers the styles that make sense to brew this way are IPAs, APAs or very hoppy styles such as a lager with dry hopping. Nowadays these styles are very popular among consumers.
WHERE WE CAN CELEBRATE THE ARRIVAL OF THE FRESH-HOP SEASON?
The fact that many brewers are not located near the hop farms, fresh-hop beers usually only are available (for a short time) in very few regions such as Oregon and Washington states in the Pacific Northwest in the US. There are even yearly events organized, celebrating the arrival of the season. Even so, it is common that during harvest time the Yakima Valley distributors, an area where 77% of the hops in the United States grow, send express fresh hops to breweries all over the world.
A HIGHLY RECOMMENDED OPTION: USE LOCAL HOPS
Another highly recommended option to enjoy the sensory privilege offered by this type of beers made and consumed once a year is using local hops, which, besides contributing to the development of the sector, facilitates the transport logistics. In the case of Spain, we have companies that have been doing a great job for some time, such as Órbigo Valley (León) and Lupulina (Girona) among others.