Fresh Hop Round Up
We’ve been drinking fresh hop ales for about a month now, and we’ve come up with a helpful set of fresh hop principles.
Lesson one: don’t mess around with your fresh hops.
Someone at Hopworks thought it was a good idea to dump a load of fresh Centennials into a yeastie saison. It’s all yeast, no hops. I don’t even like it as a Belgian yeast bomb. Level Beer – a new outfit located near the airport – made a similar mistake. They’re first can release is a fresh hopped version of their Ready Player One saison. It’s super light and pretty pleasant, but again, the yeast covers up any real hop flavor.
Lesson two: drink it fresh!
One again, Double Mountain has bottled two different fresh hop beers. We got a bottle of Killer Red pretty soon after the release. It was pretty tangy and sweet. The Killer Green was a several days older. It was pretty plain. Killer Red was juicy with spruce tips and red currants. It had zip and zing. Killer Green was mostly pine and citrus, with a hint of fresh sparkle, but it was almost all gone.
Lesson three: try to be restrained.
Fremont’s Filed to Ferment is pretty good. It’s got a fresh hop zing, but on the back end, it’s all vegetables – green bell pepper in particular. I can’t decide if that’s a function of excessive hop material or just an Amarillo hop flavor. I’m leaning toward the former. I can see how some would taste it as a flaw, but I still liked the beer.
Lesson four: sometimes a simple beer is a better beer.
My favorite fresh hop beers so far have been super simple. Fresh Prince from Gilgamesh Brewing is a basic IPA – no bells, no whistles – but I like it a lot. It’s got a real bitterness to it. The fresh Centennials add extra floral notes on top of a dry bodied beer. 8 Pound Pale from Full Sail does the same thing. Fresh hops add a little sparkle to a balanced pale ale – fresh grass and sharp citrus. Nothing complicated, just a shining nice beer.
If you’ve got some fresh juicy hops, let them shine. Don’t make a porter. I’m looking at you Hopworks and you’re Cascadian Dark Ale.