Summer is waning and Fall is drawing closer each day. That must mean it’s Fresh Hop time! Each year, when it’s time for the hop harvest up in Yakima Valley, many local craft breweries prepare to brew their annual Fresh Hop beers – loaded up with fresh-picked hops right off the vine.
Two Beers Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) prides themselves on always being the first local brewery each year to debut their Fresh Hop IPA, and this year is no different. They held their annual hop picking party, and brewed their Fresh Hop IPA back on August 9th. By next week it will be ready to serve, and Two Beers is welcoming it with a Fresh Hop IPA release party on Wednesday, August 23rd.
Just last week I told you about the Harvest Collaboration Series form Bale Breaker Brewing Company, in which they paired with four different craft breweries to create the beers for the series. They’ll have staggered releases from August through October. Now, while they’re still in the collaborative mood, Bale Breaker is at it again with the upcoming release of Sesiones del Migrante Mango IPA in six-packs.
Sesiones del Migrante is a series of beers that Bale Breaker has brewed in conjunction with Mexican and American breweries, in a collaboration that spans 5 breweries and 2 countries. Created in celebration of the Mexican migrant workers who travel to the Yakima Valley each year to help harvest the precious hops for all those wonderful craft beers we all enjoy, it’s due to arrive both on tap and in cans on September 7th and will see distribution throughout Washington and Northern Idaho.
Each year, as Fall approaches in the Northwest, it’s hop harvest time. That can only mean one thing: Fresh Hop IPAs are coming. Most beers are brewed using kilned or dried hops, usually in the form of compressed hop pellets. Fresh Hop or Wet Hop beers, on the other hand, utilize fresh, un-kilned hops straight off the vine. This allows them to retain all of their natural oils (some of which can be lost or reduced during the kilning/drying process), and impart a more Earthy and natural character to the finished beer.
When brewing a Fresh Hop Ale, the hops must be utilized with 24 – 48 hours after picking to ensure freshness. Any longer and they’ll start to become soggy and begin to develop mildew and rot. So, when the season arrives, you’ll see plenty of trucks from local breweries making day-trips up to the Yakima Valley to procure their fresh hops for brewing.
Some things just go together, like peanut butter and jelly, chicken and waffles, meat and cheese. The best pairing for us craft beer lovers, however, might just be the partnership between craft breweries and food trucks. It’s the perfect arrangement for breweries that don’t serve their own food, as well as for the food trucks. Brewery patrons don’t have to leave the brewery to go eat or worry about bringing their own food, and the food trucks get a steady supply of customers who need something to accompany those tasty craft beers they just ordered.
For some breweries, like Bale Breaker Brewing Company in Yakima, having food trucks is especially important because there aren’t a lot of food options right nearby. That’s why Bale Breaker has arranged to have food trucks at the brewery 6 days a week, all summer long through Labor Day.
Seattle Beer Week is almost here. Things get under way next Thursday the 4th with the Kickoff night tour and, of course, the on-tap launch of the Official beer of Seattle Beer Week 2017: Fresh Off The Farm IPA from Bale Breaker Brewing Company.
Each year, Seattle Beer Week (SBW) partners with a different Washington brewery (or, in the case of SBW #6 in 2014, they partnered with six breweries), to produce the Official beer of SBW. This year Bale Breaker is honored to be the first brewery from Yakima Valley to be selected. In addition to brewing the official beer of SBW 2017, Bale Breaker also has several events setup throughout the week.
Winter is still upon us (it was damn cold out last night!), but Spring is right around the corner. We’re even starting to see some early Spring Seasonals returning. That means Seattle Beer Week can’t be far off. In fact, there’s less than 2 months until the start of Seattle Beer Week 2017, which runs from May 4th through May 14th, 2017.
Each year, a different brewery (or breweries) are selected to brew the official Seattle Beer Week beer. This year, that honor falls to Bale Breaker Brewing Company from Yakima, Washington. Get ready to enjoy plenty of Fresh Off The Farm IPA. Packed with farm-fresh hops, of course, Fresh Off The Farm IPA will be available in cans and on draught throughout Washington for the 9th annual Seattle Beer Week (SBW9).
Have you been enjoying Fresh Hop season? I don’t know about you, but my lupulin levels must be through the roof. I love the abundance of hoppy beers available this time of year and am thankful that I live in the Northwest, which produces the best Fresh Hop beers available in the World.
So, have I had enough? Not by a long shot. I know there are opinions out there that hops are overused in the craft beer industry and that the IPA style has taken over too much and become too hoppy. To that I say, absurd. Yes, there are some ridiculously hoppy beers out there. That’s great for those of us who enjoy them. If you don’t, however, then don’t drink them. It’s just that simple.
The abundance and popularity of IPAs and hoppy Pale Ales doesn’t mean there aren’t other choices out there. Although, I will admit, most tap lists are rather hop-heavy this time of year for obvious reasons. If you’re like me though and just can’t get enough then you’re in luck, because the 2016 Seattle Fresh Hops Festival starts this Friday at Hale’s Palladium.
We’re well into Fresh Hop season here in the Northwest (in fact the Yakima Fresh Hop Festival is coming up this weekend). The Puget Sound’s proximity to the Yakima Valley means that local craft breweries have incredible access to the nation’s largest hop producing region. This allows local breweries to produce what I believe are the best Fresh Hop beers available anywhere in the World.
Most Fresh Hop beers (also sometimes referred to as Wet Hop) are brewed using hops that were still on the vine less than 24 hours ago. This gives them a unique hop character you won’t find in other, regular, IPAs or Pale Ales. With all the Fresh Hop releases coming one after the other right now, it’s like Disneyland for hop heads. Someone get me an E ticket!
In a unique twist, however, Fremont isn’t just brewing one fresh hop recipe. They’ll be brewing during the whole hop harvest season up in the Yakima valley, and using four different hop varieties as each one his harvested throughout the season.
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.