Fresh hop beer season has almost come and gone for another year, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight another one of these delicious, fleeting beers.
Most fresh hop beers on the market tend to be hop-forward IPAs or pale ales—these styles do the best job of highlighting the luscious, floral, grassy flavours of fresh hops. But that doesn’t mean other styles can’t benefit from a heavy dose of fresh hops.
Strathcona Beer Co.’s Fresh is a dry-hopped sour ale that features fresh B.C.-grown Cashmere hops, in addition to some Citra and Waimea, a somewhat obscure bittering hop from New Zealand. You’d likely never know that this is a fresh hop beer if the can didn’t announce it, though. But that’s OK, because it’s delicious. You can get away with a lot if your beer is delicious.
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. The addition of fresh hops has an interesting effect on this beer though, imparting some grassy, herbal notes, as well as a big tropical aroma.
According to the can, Strathcona reckons there’s a slight hint of white wine, and they’re right, if only because this beer hits all the same notes as a New Zealand Sauv Blanc: passion fruit, grass and grapefruit all tied together with considerable acidity. This effect becomes more pronounced if you swirl the beer until it’s flat. It’s uncanny, actually.
I love this beer because there’s more going on here than just the fresh hops. While it doesn’t necessarily highlight the fresh hops like an IPA or a pale ale would, this beer would be impossible without them.
Fresh by Strathcona Beer Co.
Fresh hop sour ale • 6.0% ABV • 473 mL tall can
Appearance: Hazy deep gold colour with a fine, lingering off-white head.
Aroma: Tropical fruit, citrus, stone fruit, lactic acidity.
Flavour: Passion fruit, stone fruit, citrus, tropical fruit, pineapple, grass, slightly herbal, vegetal, somewhat vinous, well-balanced acidity, low hop bitterness, mild crackery malt character.
Body/Finish: Light bodied and effervescent, with a tart, dry finish.
Pairs with: Grilled asparagus, fush n chups, wool sweaters and Taika Waititi movies.