The Brew Site

Fresh Hops Week: Just how many are there?

How many fresh/wet hop beers are out there? That’s what I’m wondering. One the one hand, it’s a trend still in its infancy (or at least toddler years), so there’s a finite number of fresh hop beers floating around out there; on the other hand, it seems like every time I turn around, there are more! It’s a moving target.

Additionally, it becomes tough to track because none of these beers adhere to a particular style; while the trend right now seems to be pale-variety beers, that need not apply as it evolves. And there’s no set "fresh hop" style that one can just look up. So we need to count via indirect methods.

BeerAdvocate lists 19 beers with the words "fresh hop" in the name—though 3 of those appear to be yearly variations from Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, so let’s say 17. Additionally, BA is reporting that 4 are retired (I’m not counting Hop Trip since I know for sure it’s not), but that’s problematic too since the "retired" Laurelwood Kölsch offering was brewed this year. Let’s say at least 2 are definitely retired, bringing the total down to 15.

(Further, I’m making an allowance for the 2 Pizza Port beers that have the same name… but are brewed in different locations.)

For "green hop" there are no results, and for "wet hop" there are 2. So we’re back up to 17.

RateBeer reports 30 beers with "fresh hop" in the name, though the same caveats apply. Just eyeballing the list, I’ll knock it down to 26. Of those, it looks like 9 were duplicated with the BA list, and at least 1 is retired, so we’ll say 16.

RB then reports 6 for "wet hop" and 10 for "green hop", though those "green hop" beers don’t actually appear to be what we’re looking for. Of the 6 "wet hop," 3 are not duplicated from BA and 1 already showed up on the previous BA list. So, up to 19 total.

Both figures together give us 36 so far. Yikes!

You know what? This isn’t even taking into account fresh hop beers with "harvest" in the name versus those that aren’t actual fresh hop beers—like Dick’s Harvest Ale (not a fresh hop) versus BridgePort‘s Hop Harvest Ale. This is a problem, because BA reports 225(!) beers with "harvest" in the name, and RB reports "more than 100."

Here’s the reality: There’s no reliable way to count. Besides those beers which have become a set seasonal with big(ger) brewers, many breweries experiment each year with fresh hops and produce small batches that are one-offs or that drastically change from year to year. Deschutes, for instance, in addition to their Hop Trip has had 3 other pub-only fresh hops beers on tap and an additional 2 that were brewed for the Hop Tastival.

So instead of counting every fresh hop beer out there (too many to count), let’s narrow it down to something that’s more feasible: only those that are bottled and are (theoretically) more widely available than the typical brewpub batch.

I’ll do some more digging and have results later in the week.