- On October 8, 2015
Needless to say, the craft beer world loves hops. Hop-forward IPAs are by far the leading craft beer style, and many of the most highly regarded beers in the world feature huge additions of aromatic hops. Every harvest season something special happens: brewers select hops at their peak of resin-y ripeness and they brew a batch of beer using these fresh, “wet” hops. The resulting beer is bursting with bright aromatics and flavors. These brews are generally in short supply, but if you can track some down it’s a hop-lovers dream come true, and we’ll be stocking any and all that we can get our hands on starting this week at Zipps.
Hops are conical flowers from the Humulus Lupulus plant. They’re one of the four definitive ingredients that make up beer, the other three being water, some form of malted barley or grain, and yeast. Without hops, all of the un-fermented sugars in beer would come to the forefront with a cereal-like sweetness. Hops provide bitterness to balance out the sweetness, as well as an array of aromas and flavors that range from floral and earthy to citrusy and fruity. Many types of plants and herbs were used in brewing for hundreds of years until hops became a predominant ingredient around the 13th century.
Generally when hops are harvested they must quickly be kilned, turned into pellets, and refrigerated. If this isn’t done properly or quickly enough, the hops will break down into compost. Once they go through this process they can be used for months to come, and every year-round hop-forward beer is brewed using these pellets. Wet hop beers forgo this process and the hops are used at peak freshness, packed full of juicy, aromatic resins. The comparison is similar to using fresh herbs versus dried herbs in cooking. Dried herbs can get the job done, but fresh herbs are intense and bright, and will elevate anything they’re used in.
Here’s a run-down of a few favorite wet hop beers:
Surly Wet: This IPA is in very limited supply at Zipps as of the time of this blog post, so hurry in. The recipe changes yearly, this time Surly used 100% Simcoe hops from Oregon.
Deschutes Hop Trip: This one isn’t in stock yet, so keep an eye on Twitter or check in periodically for it’s arrival. It’s an annual favorite that features a blend of Pacific Northwest hops.
Founders Harvest Ale: From a brewery that is no stranger to the hoppier things in life, this liquid gold is another one to keep an eye out for in the coming weeks at the shop.
Lucid Foto Fresh: This is a version of the popular local IPA that uses Minnesota-grown fresh hops. Coming soon.
Indeed Mosaic Wet Hop: This is a tap-only release that can currently be found at the brewery’s taproom. It uses 100% Mosaic hops in a clean, sessionable pale ale.
Enjoy this truly seasonal happening for the few glorious weeks that you can, it’s an under-the-radar occurrence that ranks among my favorite events in the beer industry year after year. Keep an eye on @zippsbeer on Twitter for up-to-the-minute beer releases! Cheers!