North American hops are harvested each year from late August through September, which means beers brewed with the freshest hops available, known as wet-hopped beers, arrive in early October. Wet-hopped (also called fresh-hopped) beers are best consumed ASAP; here are a half-dozen to try now:
Uinta Wet Hop Session Pale Ale: This new offering from Salt Lake City’s Uinta sports an aroma of bright tangerine, some pine resin and a touch of straw. A moderate caramel backbone supports a juicy explosion early, before strong piney bitterness stands firm until a clean finish. There’s a lot going on in this crushable 4%-ABV beer.
Deep Ellum Hop Seeker: Heavy pine and grass tones, along with fresh grapefruit, float up from this hazy orange IPA, another new beer for 2015, by Dallas-based Deep Ellum. The taste of fresh pine needles gives way to bitter grapefruit pith backed by thin, crackerlike maltiness in a gushingly carbonated sip. A nicely constructed brew with a classic wet-hop taste.
Fat Head’s Hop Stalker: Definitive dankness highlights the aroma, which also features fresh pine resin and faint sweet lemongrass, of the Ohio brewery’s wet-hopped IPA. Sticky caramel greets the tongue, followed by solid pine and light orange-and-honey sweetness before a well-timed, bold bitterness kicks in to wrap a bow on this beer.
Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale: Pungent pine and a hint of green onion are the primary scents, while notes of tangerine and grapefruit float in the background. The sip unveils in flavors of damp pine and a trace of hay against a sweet malt character. The extremely bitter finish lingers practically forever. At 6.1% ABV and bursting with bitterness, this pale ale drinks more like an IPA.
Black Hog Iron Hog Wet Hop IPA: Freshly harvested Cascade, Chinook, Centennial and Columbus hops grown in New Jersey are packed into the 7.1%-ABV beer from Black Hog Brewing Co. in Oxford, Connecticut. A caramel sweetness drives the aroma early prior to the arrival of alfalfa and candied orange notes. Juicy orange pops hard on the swallow before a bitter bite balloons at the back end.
Deschutes Chasin’ Freshies IPA: Deschutes changes the type of hops each year for its annual fresh-hopped offering, and the spotlight shines on Lemondrop hops in 2015. Despite the name, we detect more grapefruit and orange on the nose with a touch of lemon coming in late with the tantalizing scent of fresh grain, like sweet wort, swirling throughout. Assertive bitterness courses through the sip and lemony grapefruit blossoms in the center and hangs around in the aftertaste. There are just enough cereal grain tones to carry the hop characteristics.