What Are Fresh-Hop Beers? Words from Jeff Alworth
Nearly every beer made in the world uses dried hops. The strobile (cone) of the climbing bine Humulus lupulus (less scientifically known as common hops) gives beer bitterness along with the flavors and aromas of fruit, flowers or forests. Typically, they are taken to a drying kiln, baled and sent to chilled warehouses.
Fresh hops, by contrast, are never dried. Family hop growers have developed close relationships with Oregon-based breweries over the past decade or so, and during fresh-hop season, they stay in close communication. When the moment of perfect ripeness arrives, farmers call the brewery and tell them when their hops will be picked. Brewers fire up their mash tuns and dispatch a truck to race back to the brewery with these little green jewels within an hour or two of harvest. Each minute the hop is separated from the bine is precious, so the beers can’t be made very far from the fields in which they grew.
Similar to how the flavor of dried and fresh basil differs, the delicate nature of fresh hops means they simply taste different when compared to conventional hops. As in basil, the chemical constituents of hops — the essential oils and acids — are most vivid when fresh. A floral, lightly grapefruity dried Cascade hop, for example, smells more like a blossoming orange orchard, with jammy, mandarin flavors when fresh. The beers that result from these hops are unlike any made with conventional hops. They have the qualities only those undried hops possess.
For pFriem Fresh Hop Kellerbier we take a base beer that is similar to pFriem Pilsner and turn our Lauter Tun into a large hopback. We run wort on top of Fresh Willamette Hops that we get directly from Goschie Farms. We leave this beer unfiltered in order to get a complex, fresh, and vibrate showcase of the Fresh Hops and the Lager beer.
Pillowy white foam on top of a ghostly body of light gold with a kiss of haze. Herbal notes of lemongrass, white pepper, fresh grass, pine, pear, and nectarine. Fresh flavors of arugula, mint, pine, lemon zest, jasmine tea, lemon short bread, and sulfur. Finishes soft, pithy, citrusy, with a kiss of savory sulfur pulling you back for more.
Fatty meats in curry sauce and jerk chicken. Excellent with seafood: fish, shellfish, turbot calamari, crab, clams, sole, shrimp, oysters and lobster. Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring. Sausages including chorizo, andouille, and merguez bacon, sausage, and any other breakfast meats work wonderfully.