2013 Fresh Hop Season in Full Swing – My Rundown

October 9th, 2013 · 10 Comments · Oregon Breweries, Washington Breweries

Photo thanks to +Russ.

This time of year is all about the fresh hops. With so many different fresh hop beer releases here in the NW, it can be hard to keep track of what I’ve had & liked. So, I am going to take a page from Bill Night over at “It’s Pub Night” and keep a running list of fresh hop beers I have tried this season. Imitation is the best form of flattery, right Bill? I’ve only tried 22 35 so far this year (Bill has tried a whopping 44), but with the Fresh Hop Throwdown coming this weekend that number will surely increase. I also need to get off my butt and see what else I can find around town.

What do I look for in a fresh hop beer? What I’m looking for is that green/grassy/earthy fresh hop flavor and aroma that comes from the fresh hops. But, the base beer itself has to be solid in the first place. My favorites are almost always IPAs and American Pale Ales with lower ABVs and IBUs, because those styles tend to let the hop flavor come through best. I appreciate that many brewers like to experiment with different styles when using fresh hops, but to me the end results in some styles just mask any fresh hop character. My feeling is that if you aren’t going to let those fresh hop flavors shine through, what’s the point?

Here are the buckets I’ll put the fresh hop beers I have tried in:
Top-Notch = Exactly what I want in a fresh hop beer. The green fresh hop flavors come out loud and clear, and the overall beer is well-rounded and balanced.
Strong Effort = Good fresh hop flavor along with a solid beer.
Solid = Solid beer, but minimal fresh hop flavor.
I’ll Pass = Was not a fan.

Like Bill did, I roughly put these in order of preference within each category. That said, many of the beers in the top category are really clustered together. It’s hard to pick a favorite. I didn’t take notes on any of these; I am just going off of memory. The great beers stick out easily in my mind, but the forgettable ones…are kind of hard to recall.

Top-Notch
Laurelwood Fresh Hop Workhorse – I wanted to drink entirely too much of this.
Elysian 50 Shades of Green – best fresh hop beer I’ve ever had from Elysian
Bale Breaker Piled High Fresh Hop – the brewery is located in the middle of a hop field…would be a shame if they didn’t have a good fresh hop beer. Luckily, they do.
Fremont Cowiche Canyon – always fantastic
Old Schoolhouse Fresh Hop IPA – first year I’ve gotten to try this one. Did not disappoint.
Big Al Fresh Hop Amarillo – different than the previous Harvest Fresh Hop they did in the past. Love it.
Double Mountain Killer Green – Better than the last few years.
Bainbridge Amarillo Fresh Hop

Strong Effort
pFriem Fresh Hop Mosaic Belgian Wheat
Ninkasi Total Crystalation
Pelican Elemental
Snipes/Black Raven Rhize & Shine
Amnesia Mother Pucker
Georgetown DH Fresh Hops Harvest ESB
Full Sail Fresh Hop
Bridgeport Fresh Hop Imperial Pils
Bellevue Brewing Fresh Hop Ale
Pike Wolf of the Woods
Deschutes Chasin’ Freshies
Two Beers 2013 Fresh Hop
Everybody’s Head Stash

Solid
Fort George Fresh Hop XVI Chapel – loved this beer…but no fresh hop flavor.
Silver City Citra Wet-Hop Pale Ale
Deschutes Fresh Hop Bitter
Elysian Prairie Rose
Terminal Gravity Wild Wild Wet
Reuben’s Brews¬†Amarillo Fresh Hop
New Belgium 72 El Dorado (Cask)
Elysian Kama Citra
NW Peaks Cave Ridge Fresh Hopped Rye
Standard Brewing Fresh Hop IPA

I’ll Pass
North Sound Brewing Hopsolute – This won the Fresh Hop Throwdown last year…but this year’s version wasn’t as successful. One friend got diacetyl. I got lots of a muddled flavor that I wouldn’t quite call diacetyl, but it was unpleasant nonetheless.
Almanac Fresh Hop IPA: Chinook – didn’t get fresh hops in either of the Almanac fresh hops I tried, and I didn’t love either base beer. They were the first 2 fresh hop beers I had this season, so maybe I was being too harsh…
Almanac Fresh Hop IPA: Cascade
Elliott Bay Hop Harvest 2013 – Diacetyl

Others That Have Been/Will Be Around Seattle, Haven’t Had Yet

Double Mountain Killer Red
Black Diamond Fresh Hop
Twin Peaks Fresh Hop
Goodlife Fresh Hop
Seven Seas Hop Prophet
Schooner Exact Fresh Hop
Scuttlebutt Fresh Hop IPA
Anacortes Fresh Hop Pale Ale
Beer Valley Fresh Hop Leafer Madness
Old Schoolhouse Fresh Hop Imperial IPA
Georgetown Fresh Hop Manny’s Pale Ale
Georgetown RyRye Fresh Hops IPA
Populuxe Fresh Hop Citra
Foggy Noggin’ Fresh Hop Diablo del Sol
Triplehorn Fresh Hop IPA
Ninkasi Hop Fraiche

If you have a favorite fresh hop beer you’ve tried this year or have one I should add to my list, please leave a comment.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • Kim Sharpe Jones

    I don’t know if Kulshan’s fresh hop beer will be available around Seattle. It placed #1 at Yakima Fresh Hop judging last weekend. Sooooo bright and tasty.

  • Deborah

    I don’t see Naked City Brewery & Taphouse. http://nakedcitybrewing.com/
    They are wonderful people. The pub is filled with great beer as well as great food. It would be well worth a trip in my book.

  • Kaiser

    Kim – yeah, I’d love to try it…but haven’t heard anything about it making its way down here this year. Makes me want to drive up to Bellingham this weekend…if they even have any left.

    Deb – I love Naked City…but I haven’t seen that they have a fresh hop beer this year. This is a post about fresh hop beers.

  • Peter

    We did 2 FH beers at Populuxe this year, a Citra and a Chinook. Alas, I don’t think either will make it out of the tasting room. Curse of the 1.5bbl. I will put them on for side by side comparisons Friday if you find yourself in Ballard.

  • George mayo

    Old schoolhouse was outrageous. I agree w these that are posted. Pine Box had an awesome lineup. would love to try bale breaker

  • Ryan

    Is Bale Breaker’s Piled High available anywhere in Western Washington? Top Cutter is incredible and I bet their fresh hop is great too!

  • Kaiser

    Sadly, don’t think the Bale Breaker Piled High is being distributed over this way. I had a very kind friend bring a growler back for a few of us on his way back from Yakima last weekend.

  • Rick

    NW Peaks has the Cave Ridge Rye Fresh Hop out. I saw that it’s available at Chuck’s right now.

  • Russell

    The last keg of our SMaSHaSS: Amarillo Fresh Hop leaving the brewery will be on at the Fir’s throwdown tomorrow. Single Malt, Single Hop, Single State with 125lbs of fresh Amarillo. Still a keg or two left at the taproom though. For now. Almost certainly will be gone by Monday. 1o barrels gone in just about three weeks!
    -Russell, Brewmaster, Bainbridge Island Brewing

  • Marc

    How about Port Brewing High Tide Fresh Hop IPA? It’s always one I look forward to.

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