Reviews: A trio of Washington fresh hop beers

Nope, I am not done talking about fresh hop beers yet! (Just wait until I start in on the pumpkin beers…) Technically yes, the season is over, though there are the bottled versions on the shelves now (especially considering Lagunitas’ Born Yesterday was just released five days ago) so if you can get them, drink them. In the meantime I’ll be writing up several reviews of bottled versions I’ve had of late.

These three I’m reviewing today are from Washington, ones that I picked up when visiting Seattle for Elysian Brewing’s Great Pumpkin Beer Festival a month ago. Let’s take a look.

Silver City Wet Hop Pale AleSilver City Citra Wet Hop Pale Ale

Silver City is based out of Bremerton, Washington, but got its start back in 1996 in Silverdale before moving into their Bremerton facility in 2010. For as long as they’ve been brewing beer, apparently last year was the first time they had ever brewed a fresh hop beer, draft only—their Citra Wet Hop Pale. They brought it back again this year and bottled it. It’s 6.1% alcohol by volume.

It pours amazingly clear, a bright copper color with ample white, lacy head with great legs. This was a relatively fresh bottle—released on September 30, I believe, and I was drinking it on the 8th—and the aroma tell the story, with bright, floral hops, with a fruity and slightly “sweaty” presence. Orange and tangerine peel. Hint of cattiness?

It’s got a clean, solid malt body with a nicely mellow bitterness and a green wash of fresh hops at the back. Slightly peppery, the hops are mild and a touch floral with hints of lemongrass. It’s medium-bodied and well-built, drinks very clean and smooth.

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Two Beers Brewing Fresh Hop IPATwo Beers Fresh Hop IPA

Founded in 2007 and located in Seattle, Two Beers Brewing brews some 6,000 barrels per year among 12 to 20 different recipes. Their Fresh Hop IPA results from “A brewery-wide road trip provides us with some the first hops of the Yakima Valley hop harvest. The result is a intoxicatingly aromatic IPA that’s new and exciting every year.” It comes in at 6.2% abv.

Brown-amber in color, it has a very fine head of tiny bubbles. It smells sweet(ish) with a green, viney character and presents a bit of tropical fruit, and a kind of “wet greens” aroma—reminiscent, to me, of freshly-picked and washed spinach or chard maybe.

It’s nicely bitter up front as it washes over the tongue with a fresh resin character at the back. Flavors of light mustard greens, a bit crystal-malty in the middle, finishes spicy and highlighting mustard again. It’s medium-bodied with a chewy crystal malt texture and a nicely bitter aftertaste.

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Ice Harbor Fresh Hop IPAIce Harbor Fresh Hop IPA

We now travel east to the Tri-Cities region of Washington—specifically, Kennewick—to find Ice Harbor Brewing, founded in 1997. Their website is a bit out of date regarding this beer’s description, as it says it’s unavailable in bottles and is 7.5% abv; in reality, it is clearly bottled and the label states it is in fact 6.5% abv. If we believe the hops used, they are (or were at one point) Amarillo and Centennial.

The beer itself has an orange color that reminds me of fall (and pumpkins). There’s a nice lacing of off-white head topping off the appearance nicely. It has a fresh zippiness with a spicy character in the aroma—arugula or maybe even mild chili. Light sweet maltiness complements the peppery note.

In the mouth there’s fresh green vegetable character (in a good way, not a flawed way) followed by a spicy bitterness with a mustard green thing going on. It’s a nice, easy-drinking IPA with that vegetal thing going on. Medium-bodied, and finishes clean with a bitter(ish) aftertaste.

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