Beer is made up of four primary ingredients: grain, hops, yeast and water. The flavor, bitterness, aroma, mouthfeel and even the color of a beer can change when a different type of grain, varietal of hops or type of yeast is used; even the water used to brew can change the subtle flavor of the beer.
A majority of beer produced in America is made with kiln dried and/or pelletized hops. During the harvest season (mid-August through September), the hops are picked, dried and turned into small pellets.
Some of the most unique and sought after beer is made with fresh hops.
Fresh hops are an entirely different ballgame. They are less concentrated than their dried counterparts, so it takes more of them to achieve the same flavor. Fresh hops produce a beer that is less bitter and has less of a bite to it, while adding more of a fresh, herbal or “green” flavor profile. The biggest difference is that fresh hops must be used within 24 hours of harvest or they will begin to rot.
Fortunately for us at Grains of Wrath, more than 75 percent of American hops are grown right here in the Pacific Northwest.
Mike, our head brewer and partner, and Owen, assistant head brewer, have worked hard to create three fresh hop beers – Simcoe Fresh Hop EGA, Mosaic Fresh Hop Scatterbrained and Citra Fresh Hop Heavy Wetal, a collaboration with Cloudburst Brewing. EGA was tapped earlier this week and Scatterbrained and Heavy Wetal are scheduled to be released next week.
The fresh hops in these beers have been sourced from Sodbuster Farms in the Willamette Valley as well as Perrault & Son Farms of Yakima Chief Ranches in Central Washington.
Simcoe Fresh Hop EGA
This is one of our flagship IPAs. It was created to pay respect to the Marines that are close to us. Mike’s father as well as another one of our partners, Shawn Parker, are both Marines. We couldn’t think of a better way to show our appreciation for them than to make a beer called EGA (Eagle, Globe and Anchor), which is the official emblem and insignia of the United States Marine Corps. EGA features generous amounts of Columbus, Ekuanot, Simcoe and Citra, making tropical fruit, citrus and pine the stars of the show. Adding in 300 pounds of freshly picked (added within hours of being picked!) Simcoe hops from Sodbuster Farms to this beer really makes it pop that much more.
We absolutely love this beer and are very proud of what it has become.
Mosaic Fresh Hop Scatterbrained
This is a new IPA we made and is designed to showcase one of our favorite hops, Mosaic. We are fortunate enough to be able to select our lot of Mosaic that we use all year long through Yakima Chief Hops; this allows us to get the big grapefruit flavors and aromas that we look for in this beer. The beer was dry hopped with Citra and Moutere. Moutere is a new hop varietal from New Zealand that has aromas of passion fruit and grapefruit. We also added in another 300 pounds of fresh Mosaic hops from Sodbuster Farms, which really accentuates the brightness of this beer.
Citra Fresh Hop Heavy Wetal
Last year, we started the Heavy Wetal collaboration with Cloudburst Brewing in Seattle. The goal was to create a fresh hop collaboration, and quickly after we all decided it should be an annual release. This year, Steve Luke the founder of Cloudburst, traveled down to Camas to help create a West Coast American Pale Ale with fresh Citra from Perrault & Son Farms in Toppenish, WA. This beer has huge aromas of citrus and fresh orchard fruit from the use of the Citra as well as Rakau, a varietal we like from New Zealand.
Fresh hop beers are truly a limited time only beverage. They can only be created during the very small window that is hop harvest season, and when they are gone, that’s it. Well, at least until next year.