PORTLAND – It’s the beginning of the fall and that means one thing to beer enthusiasts across the Pacific Northwest—fresh hop beer season.
The elusive beers rear their hoppy heads for only a few short weeks from late August to early September, and Northwest microbreweries are already distributing their limited runs of the small batch suds.
Full Sail brewery in Hood River has been making fresh hop beers every year since the popular trend started in the Northwest more than 10 years ago.
“The closer you are to the hops, the faster you can get them into the beer, and fresh hops have a more aromatic flavor that you can’t get with dried hops,” said Full Sail’s executive brew master Jamie Emmerson. “A typical IPA has 2-3 pounds of dried hops, but a fresh hop beer can have ten pounds of hops.”
Emmerson said because of the amount of hops used, fresh hop beers don’t have the concentrated bitterness of a typical IPA or pale ale.
Many breweries will even send employees to pick up hops straight from the farm to ensure the freshest ingredients.
Doug Weathers, owner of Sodbuster Farms, grows more than 600 acres of hops on his Willamette Valley farm and contributes to more than 20 fresh hop varietals from breweries around the Northwest.
He said this year’s robust hop yield was a big turnaround after an initially bleak outlook due to bad weather conditions in the early part of the season.
More: Fresh Hops Fests
More: Oregon Craft Beer
Oregon Beer Country, a blog dedicated to covering Oregon's rich variety of craft brews, compiled a list of some of Oregon's most notable fresh hop beers, which includes beers from 10 Barrel, Base Camp, Double Mountain, Deschutes, Hop Works, Migration, Ninkasi, Oakshire and scores of others.