Friday, October 5, 2012

Fresh Hops!!!

Although the weather in Washington would beg to differ, Autumn is here!  This time of year is full of special release brews: Oktoberfest/Marzens, pumpkin and spiced beers and lots of fresh hopped beer.  I want to talk about the latter for a minute.

What is the big deal with fresh-hopped beer, anyway?  Hops are traditionally harvested around the world twice a year in late summer.  Once in the northern hemisphere and once in the southern hemisphere.  After the hops are harvested, the cones are very delicate and must be used in their fresh form very quickly, so shipping them in a timely manner becomes problematic and leads to fresh hopping only in the hemisphere they are harvested.  Most of the hops that are harvested are dried and pressed into plugs or pellets, which is what most beers are hopped with throughout the year.

What's the difference in flavor?  Fresh hopped beer showcases a variety of hops and their flavors which can often be more bright and fragrant. Depending upon the hop used the beers can produce a more herbal, floral, grassy and even fruity characteristics.  It's weird to say and sort of a hard to pin down quality, but these beer just taste more... fresh.

One more note, the term 'wet hopped' just means that it's a beer that has been made with fresh hops.  'Dry hopping' refers to adding hops, in any form, to the batch after the boil, during the fermentation process. This is done to add hop aroma.  So, you could actually have a 'wet hopped, dry hopped' beer if the brewer added fresh hops after the boil.  Yeah, it's a little confusing.  

Expect to see these and a couple more of fresh hopped beers in the rotation at the Duck in the coming weeks:
Bridgeport Hop Harvest Imperial Pilsner
Beer Valley Tri-Hopped Ale
2 Deschutes Special Release Fresh Hopped Ales (TBA)


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