Barley Mowat 

Fresh is Best

with 25 comments

With fall comes pumpkin ales, but we’ve already talked about those and their bitter sweet habit of signaling the end of summer. Fall, though, also brings the hop harvest, and the hop harvest brings fresh-hopped beers.

For a bit of background, beer is virtually always made with dried hops packed into pellets. The hops last longer and are also easier and more efficient to ship when they come in dry pellet form. Given that hops naturally mature in the fall, preserving them like this also gives us the ability to brew beer year around, and I like that.

However, for a brief window in September hop growers have a rare commodity: fresh off the bine*, whole cone hops. Brewers buy these in ludicrous quantities to use in fresh hopped beers, and these are just now trickling into the market.

What’s the big deal, you ask. Why does a fresh hop make a bloody difference? Well, let me put it this way. Do you cook? What’s the difference between fresh rosemary and dried rosemary? Fresh garlic vs garlic powder? Now you’re starting to get it.

Fresh hops have an almost completely different character compared to their dried cousins. Very herbal and almost sweet, these beers let much more of the individual hop varietal’s characteristics through into the final product. The hop species explosion means that I can’t tell you what each beer will taste like without trying them, but hey, sometimes you just gotta roll up your sleeves and get some research done.


Looks official, right? All we need now is a clipboard
and we can let the grant applications fly!

2013 will feature far more fresh-hopped beers than ever before, due both to the craft brewery boom as well as the massive re-emergence of BC hop farms. Whereas the first Driftwood Sartori came as a bit of a shock to local beer consumers (what? BC grows hops?), today it seems you can’t throw a rock in rural BC with hitting a hop farm.

Thus, I’m declaring September’s beer of the month to be the current batch of awesome fresh hopped beers. I’ll fill in the list below as I learn of new brews, and have a chance to review them.

Hoyne Wolf Vine (out now and great)
Driftwood Sartori (you blinked? You missed it. Still the king of fresh-hopped beers)
Howe Sound ??
Phillips Grow Hop
Brassneck (Conrad vs Cowboy Dan Fresh-hopped Belgian Pale Ale)
GIB – Mad Dash ESB with Sartori hops
Tin Whistle – Harvest Honey Pale Ale with hops from Grand Forks
Salt Spring Island Ales – fresh hops in one of their regular beers
Lighthouse – Road Trip Brown w/ Chinook & Zeus
Townsite – Time Warp Pale Ale
P49 – Bohemian Pilsner with Sartori hops
Fuggles & Warlock – Three Dawgs Pale Ale (With hops by Lynn! (@HopsCanary))
Storm – 100% James IPA (James grew the hops)

(Thanks to KWL and Dean for the fresh hopped beer info)

* Yes, dammit, it’s bine. Deal with it.

Written by chuck

September 20th, 2013 at 11:50 am

Posted in Beers

25 Responses to 'Fresh is Best'

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  1. Parallel 49 should also has a fresh hop beer on the way. Looking forward to seeing what Graham does with ’em.

    Chris M

    20 Sep 13 at 12:35

  2. @Chris – Thanks! I swear this article is, in no way, an effort to get other people to sleuth out all the fresh hopped beers out there so that I don’t have to. Nope. Not a chance. No siree.

    Know of any others I missed, btw?

    chuck

    20 Sep 13 at 12:45

  3. Townsite has Time Warp due out Oct 1 😀

    badkaren

    20 Sep 13 at 16:04

  4. Check, according to BC Craft Beer News vol. 1 no. 2 September/October, here are some fresh hop releases upcoming:

    GIB – Mad Dash ESB with Sartori hops
    Tin Whistle – Harvest Honey Pale Ale with hops from Grand Forks
    Salt Spring Island Ales – fresh hops in one of their regular beers
    Lighhouse – an unnamed American brown ale with Chinook and Zeus hops from a farm next to the Crow and Gate pub
    Townsite – Time Warp Pale Ale
    P49 – Bohemian Pilsner with Sartori hops

    KWL

    21 Sep 13 at 10:06

  5. Chuck, according to BC Craft Beer News vol. 1 no. 2 September/October, here are some fresh hop releases upcoming:

    GIB – Mad Dash ESB with Sartori hops
    Tin Whistle – Harvest Honey Pale Ale with hops from Grand Forks
    Salt Spring Island Ales – fresh hops in one of their regular beers
    Lighhouse – an unnamed American brown ale with Chinook and Zeus hops from a farm next to the Crow and Gate pub
    Townsite – Time Warp Pale Ale
    P49 – Bohemian Pilsner with Sartori hops

    KWL

    21 Sep 13 at 10:06

  6. Our fresh hopped brown ale is called Road Trip.

    Dean

    22 Sep 13 at 11:05

  7. How about a similar list of all the local pumpkin ales?

    Not really my thing, but I just noticed a pumpkin beer EXPLOSION at my local LCDB and it would be wicked to get some guidance on which to try and which to avoid.

    Disappointing that my local LCDB had zero fresh hop beers available to go with all the pumpkin beers…

    Dale

    26 Sep 13 at 13:28

  8. @Dale — Sadly, you’re not going to find much in the way of fresh hopped ales at the LDB. I wish I could tell you why.

    Pumpkin Ales don’t get similar treatment here simply because they don’t sell down with the passion of fresh-hopped because, or Sartori specifically.

    I’ll try and put my opinions up regarding Pumpkin Ales as I find them, but I can only drink so much…

    chuck

    26 Sep 13 at 13:41

  9. As for government stores, 39th and Cambie unpacked about a half a dozen cases Sartori last Friday at 6 pm, not sure how fast it was gone.

    After a facebook announcement yesterday I went to Storm Brewing to get some 100% James IPA. They are even growing their own hops, if I remember right one plant at a organic farm and 4 at the PNE, forgot to ask what kind of hops. Apparently they did this fresh hopped beer also in past years. If my nose and palate didn’t mistake me (have some sinusitis) then this beer has more fruity flavors than the Satori, but maybe a bit more on the mild side.

    Frank_Z

    29 Sep 13 at 11:51

  10. As of yesterday morning Storm still had some 100% James IPA.
    Also went to Powell (finally open and not sold out) to get their Dunkelweizen (darker than a German one, but still Hefeweizen taste, not like Mt. Begbie), another great beer is their White IPA (Hybrid of belgian style wheat beer and IPA, sold out as of today). They will have a fresh hopped beer soon: Fresh Hop Ale – Saturday October 12th

    Frank_Z

    4 Oct 13 at 16:43

  11. Just to make the list complete: Fuggles & Warlock THREE DAWGS FRESH HOP IPA. Is this a nano brewery or home brew? The Pumphouse Pub sometimes serves their beer.

    Frank_Z

    4 Oct 13 at 16:46

  12. @Frank_Z – Thanks for the update. I just picked up some Townsite Time Warp as well.

    How’s the latest batch of Powell White? I absolutely adored this beer when it first came out, but have heard it’s not quite as good now (although still great).

    F&W are Richmond-based homebrewers contract brewing through Alameda, which is an odd arrangement for sure.

    chuck

    4 Oct 13 at 16:52

  13. And for those curious, Three Dawgs Fresh Hop uses fresh first-year hops grown by Lynn (aka @HopsCanary), whose house in Richmond is named Three Dawgs on Foursquare for the purpose of supporting Untappd check-ins.

    Must have been time consuming to drive those fresh hops all the way down to Alameda then drive the beer all the way back, then wait for it to clear Container World…

    chuck

    4 Oct 13 at 16:54

  14. I liked the Powell White IPA, it was the first time that I had this style. Yesterday I had a sip of the White IPA from Brassneck, so I could compare. Powell is more on the white side, Brassneck more on the IPA/bitter side, I personally like the Powell one more.
    Also had the Brassneck Conrad vs Cowboy Dan, if I wouldn’t have known that it is wet hopped I probably wouldn’t have identified it as such. Brassneck Multiweizen: interesting taste first but noticed a bit of pungent smell.
    I think I should get more 100% James IPA since I didn’t like my 2nd bottle of Satori so much – maybe it wasn’t the best idea to have it in a hot tub. 😉

    Frank_Z

    10 Oct 13 at 16:21

  15. Stumbled across Wolf Vine at the expensive East Side Liquor Store … let’s see how this compares.
    There are 4 more bottles left in the fridge.

    Frank_Z

    10 Oct 13 at 23:36

  16. Where did you get the Time Warp, is there any left?
    Phillips and Lighthouse would be also interesting.

    Frank_Z

    10 Oct 13 at 23:45

  17. @Frank_Z – I picked up the Time Warp at the Steamworks Bottle Shop. They had a few cases as of last Friday, and demand was not super strong.

    chuck

    11 Oct 13 at 09:06

  18. Thanks. Didn’t make it all the way to Steamworks.
    Stopped at Toby’s and saw several cases of Wolf Vine.
    Found more Wolf Vine at Brewery Creek, got some Time Warp and GIB Mad Dash ESB (they got it yesterday). They also have a fresh hopped beer from New Zealand, the question is though how long it was in transit, some of they staff apparently really liked that one, the Townsite not so much. I will see.

    Frank_Z

    11 Oct 13 at 16:35

  19. There is now also GIB Mad Dash ESB at 39th/Cambie – for $5.50 😮

    Frank_Z

    11 Oct 13 at 21:03

  20. Tried the Phillips Green Reaper today and I have to say it has a quite strange taste, there is some overpowering grassy-bitterness. Even more than one hour after drinking it I still have the taste in my mouth.

    The Mad Dash ESB is quite pleasant and you immediately taste the freshness.

    Not sure where I put the Time Warp, but I think I like it more than the Wolf Vine.

    Frank_Z

    20 Oct 13 at 19:41

  21. Picked up the Tin Whistle in Penticton today, after finding a friend’s empty bottle on a table at the campsite this morning.
    Usually I am not such a big fan of beers with honey, but the honey goes well with the grassyness of the hops, an easy drinking pale ale.
    According to the website some BCL stores also carry it.

    Frank_Z

    28 Oct 13 at 00:15

  22. Another one, not from BC but from Calgary:
    Big Rock Anthea Wet Hop Ale 2013, made with fresh cascade hops, added at the beginning, middle and end of the brewing process.
    BC got it today, also saw it at Steamworks (when I asked about wet hopped beers there, the clerk said they don’t have any).
    Didn’t notice it at Legacy. The interesting thing there was that Craftbeermarket quietly opened it’s doors already today.

    Frank_Z

    30 Oct 13 at 00:04

  23. […] distracted. I don’t just mean lazy, either. A lot was going on this October, and honestly the fresh hopped ales were still coming out, so I let an update […]

  24. Found the Lighthouse Roadtrip yesterday at BC, they also just got a fresh hopped pale ale from Deschutes, the Hop Trip.

    I really like the Roadtrip, it has a nice copper color and a fresh smell and taste, easy drinking. I know these beers are from different categories, but I love the Storm and Sartori, and I would definitely buy the GIB ESB and Roadtrip again.

    There was also a radio show where fresh hopped beers were featured, starting at 26:20:
    http://www.cbc.ca/nxnw/podcast/2013/11/03/saturday-nov-2-2013/

    Frank_Z

    8 Nov 13 at 11:46

  25. Central City Red Racer wet-hopped Pale Ale. On tap at Cascade Room and St. Augustines.
    Compared to their regular Pale Ale this has more sweetness, like honey flavor and a smoother mouth feel, nothing spectacular though. Better stick to their great Imperial IPA or Imperial Porter.

    Frank_Z

    5 Dec 13 at 00:35

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