This week’s Canada’s Craft Beer post comes from our BC craft beer guy, Bryan Clegg. Today he checks out wet-hopped goodness: beer that's made with fresh, juicy hops. Wet hop brews from Phillips Brewing, Townsite Brewing and Persephone Brewing are all on tap today!
October is a fun month to beer shop, because two seasonals are usually available: pumpkin seasonals, of course, and wet hop seasonals. As much as I dig the pumpkin beers, I dig the wet hops even more. Lucky for me, it’s November now, and the shelves are still littered with a good selection of wet-hopped goodness, so I think it’s time to share! (Note: Next year keep your eyes open for wet hop releases starting in early October.)
The vast majority of beer is made with dry hops. That means the hops are dried out and turned into pellets before being shipped to brewers. This is because not only are fresh hops not fresh for very long, but they’re also only available during the hop harvest. So those little dried pellets are what keeps our beer flowing year-round.
But in early fall we have a magical time. A time just right for fresh, juicy hops (you’ll hear the term juicy thrown around a lot when people talk about fresh hops), picked and delivered into the hands of eager brewers within a 24 to 48 hour period. Those lucky brewers will have everything pre-planned and ready to go so those hops can be used immediately in the creation of a fresh, new brew.
Why is this important? Because drying out the hops fundamentally changes the characteristics, in the same way a bag of dried basil barely resembles a freshly picked basil leaf. Fresh hops are filled with their natural oils and resins, giving juicy, herbal and earthy qualities. Another interesting effect of using fresh hops is the year-to-year changes in the harvest are more obvious; drying them out tends to cover this more subtle character. This makes wet-hopped beers more like wine vintages in the way weather through the growing season affects the flavours.
This month I’ve got three wet hop beers to check out.
Phillips Brewing —Green Reaper Fresh Hop IPA
One of the staples of the fresh hop season, Phillips has been producing Green Reaper for years. And it shows, because this is a damn good beer. Pours golden with a big foamy head, with a fresh, hoppy nose. Taste is hop-forward, juicy and earthy with a lingering, bitter finish.
ABV: 6.5% | Available: BC
Townsite Brewing — Timewarp Wet-Hopped Pale Ale
This brew from Townsite pours amber with a medium foamy head, with a nice aroma consisting of hops, piney resin and a bit of sweetness. Taste is juicy hops, slightly bitter, with a sort of piney/grassy flavour, then it melts into a more malt character with caramel sweetness.
ABV: 5.2% | Available: BC
Persephone Brewing — Fresh Hopped Red Ale
Persephone's Fresh Hopped Red Ale has a dark amber pour with a moderate head, and a sweet malty nose. Flavour is malty, nutty and caramel. There’s a bit of hoppiness in the background, along with the earthy resins of fresh hops, but the fresh hop effect isn’t as noticeable here as in the other two beers.
ABV: 8% | Available: BC
Bonus Note: The yearly December Advent Calendar from Parallel 49 and Central City is now in stores. For a bit of fun in December tasting a bunch of great beer, go pick one up!
Check out all our Canada’s Craft Beer articles.
Bryan Clegg is the beer columnist for VanFoodies.com. Bryan has a wide and accommodating palate; whether it’s a tasty low-IBU ale or a ride on the IBU train to Hop Country, he’s happy to drink and share a story about the ride. Follow @vanfoodies on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.