The ubiquitous West Coast rain has returned, and while the end of summer might be mourned by some (definitely not by the many folks around the province living under wildfire threat), there is a silver lining: fresh hop beers! (Also, no more wildfires!)
Late summer is hop harvest season. And if you time it just right, and you’re able to pick hops right of the bine and get them into the brew kettle that very day while their still dewy and moist, you’ll get magic.
Fresh hop beers (also known as wet-hopped beers), when done right, are like no other kind of beer. There are vibrant floral and grassy notes, intoxicating aromas, as well as the fresh hop “tingle” if you can get the beer fresh enough.
Here are some of the fresh hop beers we’re looking forward to this season. They only come around once a year, so get ‘em while they’re fresh.
Dying Wish Vol. II by Jackknife Brewing
Pretty much everything Jackknife does is super cool and super DUPER delicious, and this fresh hop Nordic IPA is no exception. These Kelowna kids grew their own Centennial, Cascade and Chinook hops in their back alley, using some fresh and some flash frozen in liquid nitrogen and then shattered to bits. “The last beer you will ever need before you pack it in to visit Valhalla,” according to the brewery.
Hopposites Attract Wet Hop Pale by Longwood Brewing (collab with White Sails)
Nanaimo’s Longwood got together with their crosstown rivals best buds over at White Sails to put together this fresh hop pale ale. Two varieties of locally grown and harvested fresh hops from Maple Bay Hop Farm are combined with two varieties of dry hops and a blend of barley, oats, wheat and rye for this dreamy and creamy hop-forward ale.
Friends in High Places by Moon Under Water
Brewed with red wheat from Field Five Farms in Saanich and fresh Cascade hops from Northwest Hop Farms, this pale ale features liquid nitrogen dipped and shattered fresh hops, which apparently increases the hop flavour and aroma, while reducing any vegetal off-flavours. But mainly it just looks really cool.
2021 Farm. Fresh. Hop. IPA. by Barnside Brewing
Delta’s Barnside Brewing grew their own hops on their own farm for their own fresh hop beer, so it doesn’t get any fresher than that. Fresh Chinook, Tahoma and Cascade Hops are paired with Barnside’s own Fraser Base Malt, which they also grew themselves. These folks clearly don’t sleep.
Maple Bay IPA by Backcountry Brewing
This annual favourite is brewed with copious amounts of fresh Cascade and Centennial hops from Maple Bay Hop Farm on Vancouver Island, so if you see a pick-up truck full of juicy hops on the ferry, you know what’s up. This year’s label was created by local Métis artist Jean Paul Langlois.
Die Frische by Brassneck
Brassneck’s beloved fresh hop pilsner is back and coming in two varieties this year. One will have 50 pounds of fresh Saaz hops from Myrtle Meadows Hop Farm in Pemberton and the other will have 50 pounds of fresh Sterling hops from Bredenhof Hop Farms in Abbotsford. Try them both and compare!
Wolf Vine by Hoyne Brewing
This fresh hop pale ale is brewed annually following the hop harvest in September when the folks at Hoyne Brewing hop on the ferry to Pender Island and pick the freshest hops at the Hope Bay Hop Farm for a single batch of Wolf Vine, “capturing the rawness and fragrant intensity of island life,” according to the brewery.
Alpha Dog by Yellow Dog Brewing
One of the most consistently delicious fresh hop beers out there, this dog is the leader of the pack. Speaking of pack, this pale ale is packed with juicy notes of citrus, melon and tropical fruit, with some proper hop bitterness on the back end to dry things out.
Wet Coast Fresh Hop IPA by Camp Brewing
We love a good West Coast IPA over here in Growler-land, and what could be better than a fresh hop version of a stone-cold classic. Featuring Comet hops from Myrtle Meadows Hop Farm in Pemberton.
Fresh by Strathcona Brewing
This year’s highly anticipated edition of Strathcona’s fresh hop sour ale will be featuring Cashmere hops. Like most dry-hopped sours, any harshness from the beer’s lactic acidity is balanced by the generous dry-hopping, creating a tart, soft, fruity beer. You can expect some grassy, herbal notes, as well as a big tropical aroma from this tart little number.