Now that fall has completely elbowed summer to the side, it is that wonderful time of year in the craft beer aisle—fresh hop season. Fresh hop cones, still sticky with resiny lupulin, are harvested, shipped, and tossed into boil kettles of breweries all around the country, sometimes in as little as 24 hours, lending their beers an extra burst of hop aroma and flavor with minimal bitterness. The fresh hop beers that result are also commonly called harvest ales or wet hopped beers (and not for the way that they cause beer geeks to wet themselves with anticipation). Because of the emphasis on newly harvested hops, they’re only released during the late summer harvest, and although the majority of the country’s hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest, top breweries around the country have found creative ways to get them from vine to kettle to your hands as quickly as they were intended to be. Save your barrel-aged cellar beers for the winter, though, these beers are best consumed the way they were crafted: fresh.
Surly’s Wet, a perennial favorite among hopheads, will not be produced this year, but fear not, these world class brews should scratch your fresh hop itch.
1. Founders Harvest Ale (Grand Rapids, MI):