September is easily one of the best months of the year to drink beer. The weather is still good enough for a cooler in the backyard, festivals like Oktoberfest commence (although a little differently this year), and hops fresh off the farm make their way into some remarkable brews.
It’s the time of year when hops are pulled from towering rows in places like Yakima, Washington and the Willamette Valley in Oregon and sent fresh to eager breweries all over the country. Many of the resulting beers are one-offs and draft only, so you’re encouraged to explore your local producers to see what’s available. Many, though, are bottled and canned and sent all over the place for your enjoyment and convenience.
You can make beer all year but brewers are tickled with a special kind of excitement every September. It’s a lot like wine in that it’s a very specific time of year offering a very specific set of flavors, fresh off the vine. Those who love IPAs, especially, should greet this bountiful stretch with open arms and salivating mouths. And while there are solid fresh hop options made all over the globe, the ones coming out of the West Coast are particularly tasty given their close proximity to the core ingredient.
Here are some fresh hop options to look out for in 2021:
This seasonal IPA makes a great beer immortal with the addition of fresh hops grown at the celebrated Goschie Farms. Strata hops join Amarillo, Centennial, and Mosaic to form a beer that’s perfectly bitter, with some subtle green notes and a bit of spice. The beer was on last year’s list and remains there in 2020 thanks to a new and improved hop bill that keeps things very interesting.
Beer fans should have Walla Walla’s Crossbuck Brewing on their radar if it’s not there already. The Washington brewery makes a great fresh hop IPA, showing a tremendous balance of fruit, bitterness, and citrus. While excellent on the palate it’s also wonderfully aromatic.
It’s not just IPAs that get the fresh hop treatment. This beer from Portland’s Hopworks Urban Brewery is hit with fresh and dried Centennial hops, which afford very northwest flavors like pine and wildflowers. There’s a fantastic malty backbone and while technically a winter ale, the Abominable is nimble enough for late summer and early fall sipping.
One of California’s most reliable craft breweries turns out a perennial powerhouse with its Celebration Ale. Last year’s edition was a memorable mix of Centennial, Chinook, and Cascade hops that yielded some big forest-like notes backed by orange peel and zest. Get excited for this year’s version, would should drop any week now.
Fremont out of Seattle greets the hop harvest with glee, turning out a family of delicious fresh hop options. This one is the flagship of the group and ever-reliable, made from juicy hops grown in nearby Yakima. The 2019 riff was an ideal marriage of dark and tropical notes. We can’t wait to see what comes out of the brewery this year.
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