The hop harvest in America begins by late August and lasts for about a month, depending on the size of each farm. Fresh hop beers, also known as wet hop beers, are typically brewed with hops that are picked and in the brew kettle within 24-hours.
Fresh hop beers give brewers the chance to work with an ingredient in its most natural state, resulting in unique flavors and aromas compared to beers made with hops that have been dried and stored.
The very short harvest season for hops, and the fact that these beers should be enjoyed quickly after being brewed means that the timing of the production of fresh hop beers is much more crucial than some of craft beer’s other seasonal offerings.
“Fresh hop season is easily my favorite time of the year,” said Payette Brewing Company Founder Mike Francis in their recent newsletter. ”Not only are fresh hop beers some of my most anticipated beers to drink, it also can’t fall prey to the seasonal creep that has been going on for years in the beer industry. There are ways to make a pumpkin beer in July, you see it happen every year, but there is no way to make a true fresh hop beer in July. The hops just aren’t ready yet. Fresh hop beers seem to be the last true seasonal beer left. Be sure to get out there and try as many as you can, because when they’re gone, they’re gone.”
Payette Brewing Co.’s location near Boise, Idaho puts them in close proximity to one of the premiere hop growing regions in the world. Payette has been sourcing their hops from Gooding Farms in Parma, Idaho for the past three years. This year they were able to brew three small batch, fresh hop beers: Wet ‘n Wilder, So Fresh & So Clean and Fresh Hop Rodeo.