The Yakima Valley in Washington is one of the most prolific hop growing regions in the entire World. Hops from this region are used across the U.S. and around the World to help create some of the beers you know and love. This time of year, we’re fortunate to have a plethora of ‘fresh hop’ beers available to us due to the annual hop harvest. To celebrate that harvest and all the fresh hop beers that come along with it, the 10th Annual Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Festival will be held tomorrow, October 6th in downtown Yakima, Washington.
Last year’s festival winners included:
2011 Judge’s Awards
- 1st Place – Ice Harbor
- 2nd Place – Laughing Dog
- 3rd Place – Fremont Brewing
2011 People’s Choice Winners
- 1st Place – Icicle Brewing
- 2nd Place- Fremont Brewing
- 3rd Place – Lagunitas
Most of the time, the hops used in beer production are dried in a kiln before being used for brewing. Fresh hop beers, on the other hand, are beers where the hops are added in ‘fresh’ (just picked) form. They can have a distinctly different character than other, similar styles (like hoppy pales or IPAs). Several have already been available on tap around the Puget Sound over the past few weeks. Perhaps you’ve come across a few? Two of my local favorites this year include Fremont Brewing‘s Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop Ale (Overflowing with the pleasing flowery and citrusy aromas and flavors of Simcoe and Citra hops) and Two Beers Brewing’s Fresh Hop Ale.
According to the official Fresh Hop Festival website:
This premiere Washington beer festival celebrates the world’s number one hops producer, the Yakima Valley. For a brew to be considered a “fresh hop ale” for the festival competition, it must be produced with hops that were picked no more than 24 hours prior to brewing.
Now that’s what I call fresh! So if you missed Hopfest at Brouwer’s Cafe, or you’re just in the mood for another serious hop onslaught, I suggest you head out to Yakima tomorrow to drink in your fill of delicious fresh hop beers.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.