It’s the most wonderful time of the year for West Coast beer lovers! That’s right – it’s wet hop season!
Now, what is wet hop (or fresh hop) beer? Well, first we need to talk about the hops. Depending on the year, hop harvesting begins in mid-August or early September, whenever the hops have reached full maturity. Once they’re ready, hop-growers work around the clock to slice down the hop bines and separate the cones from the leaves.
Normally, hops would immediately be sent to a kiln to be dried, which helps preserve the oils and resins that add flavour to beer. Most hops used by brewers come dried and in pellet form, however, things are done a little differently for wet hop beer. Since hops don’t survive long after being harvested, there is about a 24-hour window to get them into a batch of beer before they spoil. The fresh hops have a very distinct flavour and are generally best showcased in pale ales and IPAs.
As the hops are usually harvested in mid-August to early September, the beer is usually ready to drink in early October. Don’t save your wet hop beer for a special occasion. The best way to enjoy it is to drink it as soon as possible, they’re meant to be drunk within a couple weeks of being released! The sooner you drink them, the better the flavour.
Where to enjoy wet hop beer in BC?
There are plenty of ways to enjoy this West Coast fall favourite!
Kick off BC Craft Beer month with BC Hop Fest on October 1! It includes fresh beer tastings, hop farm tours, food trucks, entertainment, the brand new “Hop Market” and main stage presentations highlighting “all the things you can do with hops” will provide a fun filled afternoon to start off Craft Beer Month in British Columbia. Get your tickets here.
Fresh to Death – Victoria’s Harvest Celebration of Fresh Hop Beers. To celebrate this unique seasonal beer we are gathering together fresh hop beers from a bunch of BC’s best breweries and offering them to beer lovers in this sampling event at Centennial Square in Victoria. Tickets available here.
Try out a local wet-hopped beer! It takes a lot of wet hops to flavour a batch of beer, so these beers are usually sold in small/limited releases. Speak to the employees at your local liquor store or the tasting room staff at your favourite brewery, they’ll be able to give you details! Driftwood’s Sartori Harvest IPA was the first wet-hopped beer in BC and is one of the most popular, but with the rapid expansion of BC’s craft brewing industry there are new wet-hopped beers to try every year! Bomber Brewing, Dageraad, Main Street Brewing, Off the Rail, Parallel 49, Postmark Brewing, Powell Street, Parallel 49, and Steamworks are a few local breweries who have released wet-hopped beers in past years, and there’s sure to be plenty more to try this year!
Have a favourite wet hop beer? Share it in the comments below!
CAMRA BC – Vancouver Branch