12 October 2011

Wet Hop Beers

It is time of the season again for wet hop beers.  I'm a sucker for a wet hops beers, and I think it creates such a unique flavor only available once a year.

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. You still get the same flavor, but the brightness and freshness is very different. The difference is amazing. They are so highly regarded in the pacific northwest that some 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 -Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale
Left Hand - Warrior IPA
Founders - Harvest Ale
Hoppin' Frog - Fresh Frog Raw
Great Divide - Fresh Hop

Have any other favorites?  


  1. Sierra Nevada Estate is another one. I bought a bottle of BrooDoo the other day and was horribly disappointed. It smelled great, but there was no punch to it at all. It's usually my favorite beer of the year. Founders Harvest more than made up for it!

  2. Town Hall out of Minneapolis produces one of, if not the best wet hop beers each year. Also when you get a growler of Fresh Hop, they throw a full hop cone into it. Yummmmmm.

  3. Founders Harvest is def. my favorite, but those others are also great. Nice post!.


  4. The fresh herb analogy is perfect, it's essentially the same approach you take when cooking. And it has the same effect.

    I tried BrooDoo the other day and it was pretty good, though as stated before, the aroma was much stronger than the flavor, but it was still good. Two Brothers also has a "heavy handed" harvest ale, which I actually found to have some bits of hop particles in the beer. A bit weak on the hop flavor and really malty. Looking forward to the Founders Harvest

  5. Certainly made me thirsty!

    A heads up re: the Founders Harvest... I just hit up my local Crown Liquors - they were only allocated 12 bottles at the store, they're selling them for ~3.50/ea. A bit disappointing, but I'm glad I got some and will be looking forward to trying it.

    So far as others, one year I believe I had a 1/6bbl of something from Boulder. Fresh Hop? Cold hop??

  6. Speak of the devil, we are brewing Hop Harvest Pale today thanks to fresh hops from Mike Sprinkle!
    D from Bier

  7. TPB Supply has a small amount of local wet hopped Harvest Ale at the shop. Stop by for a sample or 2 if you'd like. And buy something else while you're at it ;)

  8. I actually enjoyed the Broodoo this year. I think it was because of the malt profile though more than the hop profile.


    I've really been blown away by the growlers of stuff I've had from Minneapolis Town Hall. I need to see if I can trade for one of those.

  9. I have to say that I was not impressed with Founders Harvest Ale last year. I'm eager to try this year's batch to see if it's any better.