The Brew Site

And just like that, it’s fresh hop season

Despite the wildfires smoking Oregon out right now, fresh hop season is upon us once again! This really hit home for me in the past week, in part because I got to travel over to Goschie Farms to pick up fresh hops for a Deschutes Brewery project, but also because my own (yard) hops are ready to pick and last weekend I brewed up a batch of fresh hop pale ale.

Not to mention, the fresh hop beers are starting to roll out from various breweries, and many of the upcoming festivals have been announced or are on the calendar.

I love fresh hop season. The beers, when fresh (both as in hops and just-released, not stale) can be amazing examples of how this amazing flowering spice component can express itself, as well as departing from its typical characteristics. In my opinion the best examples of these beers not only taste “fresh” but are vibrant, bright and green, with a fresh-cut-grass-like chlorophyll character (but not vegetal). They should not taste like your typically hopped beer. You can approximate something like this by plucking a fresh hop flower or two off the bine and dropping it directly into the glass of your favorite pale ale or IPA. I do this every year.

Unfortunately no one in Bend has yet released a fresh hop ale, but there are a few out there, including:

Not coincidentally, most of these releases are brewed with Centennial hops. Those are the variety which tends to be ready to harvest first and usually comprise the first wave of fresh hop releases. (My own homegrown hops aren’t Centennials. I have two hop plants: the first I believe is either Cascade or Willamette, and the other I know for sure is Santiam. Both are ready now.)

While I’m anxiously waiting for the first local fresh hop beers to drop, here’s a rundown of the upcoming fresh hop festivals that I could initially find online:

And I’m sure there will be others, smaller ones and individual brewery events as well. For instance, Bend Brewing Company here in town is likely lining one up for the first or second weekend in October—which will feature the first (as far as I know) fresh hop beers every brewed by BBC.

It’s a great time of year! And if you know of other fresh hop events coming up, let me know (or post a comment)!