Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Season of the Wet Hop
Fall is here. To a great portion of the country, especially up here in Alaska, fall is harvest time. Time to hunt, gather, and store your food for the long cold winter. The hop farming business has a similar schedule, September is time to harvest the hop fields. Since fresh hops have a quick expiration date, most are dried then vacuum sealed or turned into pellets to ensure we have freshly brewed beer all year long. HOWEVER there is a small batch of hops that are not dried and packaged but instead sent to those who ask to make Fresh Hopped or Wet Hopped ales. The wet hops need to be used within 24 hours (quick expiration date) of being picked which makes October not only fall, but the season of the Wet Hop.
Are Fresh Hopped ales worth all the trouble? Well, that's really up to you. Wet hops do add definite variety to ale recipes. When done right, they add a fresh, grassy, hoppier taste and have a strong hop bouquet. Sierra Nevada is credited with introducing this style to craft brewers in 1996 with their Northern Hemisphere Harvest ale. Since then it has become a phenomenon. In the Northwest, the arrival of the posters for all the Wet Hop Festivals is one of the signs of fall. In Portland, the Green Dragon chalkboard is filled with breweries' wet hop/ fresh hop concoctions. This time of year I definitely miss living in the Northwest. Oh well, when I'm in Portland next week I am going to concentrate on fall seasonals and maybe bring a few home with me!
Here's a few to look out for in your local market.