It's hop harvest time! During the next 3-4 weeks, hop farmers will be busy harvesting, drying and packaging hops. Since there is much to do in a short time window, hop farms typically operate in 24x7 mode for nearly a month to harvest hops at their prime. It's an amazing process!
Hop harvest also brings a unique opportunity—the ability to make wet (or fresh) hop beers. Since wet hop beers are not kiln dried, they must be used within hours of harvest. The allure of beers made with these mystical hops is that they have unique flavors not found in beers made with typical dried hops. Brewers have a short window to procure and use these hops—and most take advantage of this.
BridgePort Brewing Co. has released Hop Harvest, a wet hop ale for many years. In fact, one of the first beer events I ever covered was the launch party for BridgePort's 2010 Hop Harvest Ale. In preparation for their 2018 release, BridgePort invited me to visit Crosby Hop Farm yesterday to pick up 280 pounds of Centennials hops, the first of three batches of wet hops that will be used in this year's Hop Harvest Ale.
When you think of Centennial, you'd probably expect an IPA. But this year, BridgePort will release a Märzen, aka Oktoberfest-style lager as their seasonal Hop Harvest wet hop beer. While this style is malt-forward with a light hop profile, BridgePort will take a few liberties and accentuate the hop flavors by using a blend of wet Centennial, Amarillo, and Mt. Hood hops.
After returning from Crosby Hop farm, Jeff Edgerton, BridgePort Brewmaster, promptly dumped 280 pounds of freshly picked Centennial hops into the tank. Edgerton prefers to add the fresh hops to the beer a few days after the start of primary fermentation. This gives the hops exposure to higher temperatures (which occur during active fermentation) to aid extraction of flavor and helps to reduce the loss of volatile aromas from the active production of carbon dioxide, which peaks early in fermentation.
I enjoyed seeing the origin of this beer, and look forward to tasting it soon! Look for Hop Harvest on draft, and in 12 oz. cans when it is released in mid-September.
|A truck full of Centennial hops|
|Crosby's new conveyer moves stems and leaves from the picking facility into trucks|
|Hops being dried|
|Wet hops being used in BridgePort's Hop Harvest Fresh Hop Ale|