Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas…all special occasions worth looking forward to, but if you’re an avid beer drinker, there’s one special occasion that tops them all: fresh hop season, that short window in fall when the hops are plucked from their vines and rushed into kettles is like Christmas for IPA freaks. The idea is hops are best when used fresh. Like, same day fresh. So all across the country, and particularly in the hop-heavy Pacific Northwest, breweries capitalize on the hop harvest by throwing fresh vines in super dank, super green IPAs. Consider these fresh hop beers the electrified versions of your favorite IPA. They’re so. Damn. Good. Fresh hop beers are hitting the streets right now, and they won’t last; most of these IPAs are designed to be consumed immediately so you get the full impact of what a freshly-picked hop can do for a beer, and they’ll be pulled from the shelves at the end of October. So get on it. Here are five that we’re particularly excited to drink this season.
Deschutes brings the single hop Chasin Freshies back every fall, but switches the focus hops with each iteration. This year, they used Strata hops from Goschie Farms in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Strata is a relatively new hop cultivated in part by Oregon State University (debuted in 2016) and delivers big citrus flavors as well as undeniably weed-like aromatics. It’s found its way into many NE IPAs recently. Chasin Freshies comes in at 7.4% ABV. Look for it in bottles and on draft. And if you live in Oregon, look for about a dozen fresh hop beers that Deschutes is rolling out this month at their brewpubs. You lucky bastards.
Founders kept things local with their annual Harvest Ale, using hops grown in their home state of Michigan. In fact, 100% of the hops in this beer were grown in the Wolverine State. The brewery is so psyched about Michigan’s hop portfolio, they’re hosting a Harvest Party on October 13. The beer itself is a double punch of fresh pine and citrus with a bit of melon for good measure. You can get it through the month of October in bottles and on draft. Do it.
Not all fresh hop beers are IPAs. Seattle’s Fremont builds a seasonal pale ale with Centennial, Simcoe and Citra plucked from Yakima Valley. It’s not a revolutionary hop bill, but sometimes, you just gotta go with what works. And apparently, it works pretty good; Last year’s version won a silver at GABF, so it’s kind of a big deal. This one hit the streets in September, but you can still find it through most of October.
Crux Fermentation partnered with Bale Breaker Brewing Company to attack the fresh hop concept in two states at once. The two breweries simultaneously harvested fresh hops from two separate valleys in two separate states (Washington and Oregon) on the same morning, then combined those hops into each other’s kettle the same afternoon. Confused? So are we. The point is, you get Mosaic from Willamette and Simcoe from Yakima built into an imperial IPA that packs a punch. Word.
Why release one fresh hop IPA when you can release four, and put them all in the same box. Thanks Sierra Nevada! They don’t do the whole “picked and brewed on the same day” deal, but Sierra Nevada uses fresh Pacific Northwest hops that are trucked to the brewery within two weeks of being harvested. The beers in the box run the gamut from a session IPA to a double IPA. There’s also a fresh hop version of Celebration IPA to help get you in the mood for the holidays.