11 October 2010

I'm looking for Ray Finkle.....and a wet hop beer

It's a great time for beer right now. I've heard them called fresh hop, wet hop, harvest ales, wet harvest ales...etc....etc... you get the picture, but what are they?

The hop harvest happens in the fall each year, and from these hops come wet hop beers. The majority of those hops are destined to be processed into hop pellets that look like pellet sized hamster food. After a hop has been dried it only has about 10-15% water content, but fresh hops are about 70-80% water and from that you get the "wet" in wet hop beers. However, a lucky few hundred thousand pounds of hops get to go right into brewers kettles usually within about 24-48 hours of harvest. The drying of hops helps them retain most of their concentrated bitterness, but the drying process also takes away some of the oils and other aromatic qualities of an unprocessed hop. Wet hops will not have the same bitterness potential as processed hops. Brewers also have to use copious amounts of fresh hops vs. dried hops to achieve the wonderful aromatics on the nose and bitterness on the tongue. I can try and compare it to making a meal with dried herbs vs. fresh from the garden herbs. The difference is amazing. They are so highly regarded in the pacific northwest that most cities have a beer festival dedicated strictly to fresh hop beers.

I really appreciate that beer is an agricultural product, but I think wet hop beers go a step further and really tie in the farm to table mentality. I admit I am a notorious beer hoarder when something new hits the shelf, but wet hop beers force me to drink them because they don't hold up very long. I would recommend consuming your wet hop beers inside of a month once they are purchased, and you may even want to add a glass of water to drink along side of your beer. Right now is the time for a wet hop beer, so celebrate the harvest and enjoy a wet hop beer.

Commercial examples available here in Indiana:

Three Floyds - Broo Doo
Sierra Nevada - Harvest Ale
Left Hand - Warrior IPA
Founders - Harvest Ale
Hoppin' Frog - Fresh Frog Raw
Great Divide - Fresh Hop

If you know of others available here in Indiana please leave us a note.


  1. I gotta tell ya, I'm a wet hopped beer lover too. That's why I love when harvest time comes around, so I can harvest 20 pounds of fresh, wet nugget, magnum, cascade, chinook and centennial hops from our locally grown hop vines for a giant batch of some of the best hop flavor money can't buy!

    For those paying attention, TPB will have their wet hopped harvest ale available for sampling this weekend only at the Fauxtoberfest 2010 event. YUM!

  2. Damn, Matt, you've made me thirsty. Great post.

  3. do no forget Two Brothers Heavy Handed & Heavier Handed!

  4. Mat,

    why don't we have any Founder's Harvest ale yet in Indiana? I saw it at Jungle Jim's last weekend!

  5. Nice beer blog. I am a beer lover and would like to read your blog. Thanks.

  6. Founders Harvest was in Atlanta last week, too. I guess we know where we rank.

  7. I picked up four fours of Founders Harvest Ale this evening in Noblesville.