It is Fresh Hop season again, that enchanted time right after harvest where all the breweries in Bellingham do their best to capture the fresh flavors of hops in their Fresh Hop beer offerings.
It's one of my favorite ways to celebrate the beginning of Fall and a great excuse to get my buddies together to try some fresh Fresh Hops.
With 14 breweries in town, there are many to choose from, and many of my brothers enjoy a much more hoppy flavor than I tend to like, but all the same, it's a lot of fun to get together with the fellas and imbibe some truly unique and magical elixirs in the name of Fresh Hop Season. This last weekend, I made sure to get to may favorite places to try their Fresh Hops, and so far, the stand outs were not surprising.
I love the Kulshan Fresh Hop as well as the Wander Fresh Cassette. Some of my brother really loved Garden Path's Wet Hopped Ship, and while I did like it, the bitterness at the end was just a bit too much for my palette. We in the PNW are lucky as the majority of hops are grown in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, (and it is estimated that 69% of all hops grown in the US are grown right here in WA state), which leaves us Northwesterners with a lot of Fresh Hops to choose from. Yakima is considered hop mecca, with tourists traveling there from all over the world to visit. Only 1% of hops grown in the US are grown outside of the PNW.
What does this all mean? That in addition to the mountains, lakes, trails, and amazing ocean, we are also lucky enough to drink a beer that most beer lovers in the US simply live too far away to enjoy. Fresh hops should be used within 24 hours of harvest, and within a week, fresh hop beers change in character enough so that you are really not drinking the same beer you tried the week before.
What does all this mean? That time is wasting. It's early October already! Get out there and drink your share of Fresh Hops before the beer goes from spectacular to simply great.