One irritating thing about this new blog format is that it only shows the last three posts. I write so many posts that I could easily write more than three in an hour or two. If you don’t click the “more” link, you may well miss several new posts. This has discouraged me from writing as often as I used to. I’m sitting on several posts I’ve been meaning to put up for a few days. Like this one, about beer made from wet, or fresh, hops.
Ever tried one? They’re not easy to find, but they come out this time of year, and boy, are they ever worth it. Here’s an old Wall Street Journal piece explaining what a wet-hopped beer is. Excerpt:
But for a few months in the fall, brewers stop worrying about more hops and focus instead on fresh hops. When first plucked from its stalk, a hop flower is green and about 60 percent water by weight. For brewing purposes, hops are usually dried and refrigerated, or made into pellets that resemble rabbit food. Wet-hop beers use flowers that have been picked just hours before, so they still possess the volatile flavors that are lost during processing. Brewers compare beer made with these moist hops to a meal cooked with just-picked herbs — entirely unlike one made with dried oregano and parsley from the back of the pantry.
A fresh-hop beer can often, in fact, be less bitter than a corresponding version with dried hops, and instead is powered by floral, citrus tastes. The retained oils line the inside of the mouth and have a tinge of greenish, vegetal flavors. (Many brewers recommend drinking their wet hops with a glass of water.) It’s easy to taste the difference between a normal brew and a fresh-hop version — though that isn’t always a good thing. “If you’re not careful you can end up with a beer that tastes like lawn clippings,” says Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery.
I love bitter, heavily hopped beers, but using the moist hops makes a delicious difference. The comparison to a dish cooked with fresh herbs over dried is apt. The beers flavors are so much more alive. The other day I bought a six-pack of Hop Wallop from Victory Brewing, a local craft beermaker here in the Philadelphia area. Hop Wallop is their wet-hopped label, and no kidding, it’s one of the most interesting and delicious beers I’ve tasted in ages. What’s so special about it is how intense the hops are without being harsh. I enjoy the harshness of a super-hopped beer, but the wet-hopped beers deliver a mighty punch of hoppiness without that snarl. If you’re a beer drinker, look for this stuff. I know there are craft brewers all over the country producing wet-hopped ales right now. First time I tried the stuff was Sierra Nevada’s version a couple of autumns ago in Dallas. They have great distribution, so I would imagine you could find that most anywhere. But, of course, the closer you are to the brewery, the fresher the beer will be.