Fresh Hop Brews

Written by John Linn for blogs.browardpalmbeach.com

You might have noticed the proliferation of beers marketing themselves as “Fresh Hop” brews on the market recently. But you’re probably wondering: What does this mean? Don’t all beers have fresh hops in them? If not fresh, then what are they?

Hops are the budded plant that gives beer its bitter and aromatic qualities. They’re harvested in late summer/fall, from August to early September. Because of this, hops are most often dried or processed into compressed pellets or plugs that store year round. The techniques for this process are pretty sophisticated, so the quality of hop pellets are pretty good. If you’ve ever bought hop pellets from a homebrew store, these are essentially the same things that commercial brewers use year round in their beers.

During the fall, however, brewers have a rare opportunity to work with fresh hops. Also called wet hops, these buds don’t keep long and require a much larger dose than plugs or pellets to get the same bittering. They’re expensive and rarer, and so beers made with fresh (wet) hops are too.
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