I know it’s pumpkin spice latte season, and the pumpkin beers will get their due (we’re working on a big blind tasting for you). But there’s another fall seasonal release that beer nerds are psyched out of their minds about: fresh hop beers. You see, Timmy, it’s not just pumpkin season, it’s hop harvest season, when farmers rake in all those wonderful, dank nugs and brewers race to get them from the farm to their kettle as quickly as possible. The theory behind fresh hop beers is that using hops that are still wet from the fields delivers more pronounced hop characteristics in the beer. We did a fun blind tasting of fresh hop beers this time last year, but since this category is so “now” we thought you could use a quick six pack of freshies that are on the shelves right now.
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Crux Fermentation Project, out of Bend, Oregon is putting out three fresh hop beers this season. Dr. Jack is an IPA that uses Cascade hops that are added to the kettle the same day they're picked to enhance the floral notes of that strain. Crystal Zwickle (say that three times fast) is a pale that hinges on Crystal hops, which lend an earthiness to the beer. And Way Two Fresh is an IPA that uses both Mosaic and Simcoe hops, picked and boiled pronto.
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Fremont Brewing won our fresh hop blind tasting last year, and the Seattle brewery makes the most of its PNW location by brewing a series of fresh hop beers throughout the hop harvest season, brewing new batches of Field to Ferment as new hop strains are harvested. Look on the bottom of the can to see if the beer was brewed with Centennial, Amarillo, or Citra hops.
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Deschutes Hop Trip Fresh Hop Pale has become a cornerstone of the fresh hop season, but they also make Chasin' Freshies Fresh Hop IPA, which focuses on Centennial and has a significantly higher ABV. If you're into that sort of thing. Both are on the shelves now.
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Surly Brewing might not be located in the hop paradise of the Pacific Northwest, but that doesn't mean they can't get in on the fresh hop action. Get Wet uses 6,000 pounds of Mosaic hops for a particularly dank pale ale in big boy cans.
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Left Hand Warrior IPA is brewed with Cascade hops that were grown in Colorado and flown to the brewery to be used within hours of being harvested. It's all citrus and pine, and a bit burly at 7.3% ABV.
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Of course Founders Brewing makes an incredible fresh hop ale. Harvest Ale is a perfect example of the style; it's like your standard IPA, except more so, with vibrant notes of melon and citrus. It's also one of the most widely available fresh hop ales on this list, so just about everyone can get in on the game.