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.