It's that time of year again: fresh hop season! During this time of year, the hops are ripe and plump for the picking, and fresh hop beers come out in droves. The smell of lupulin is in the air. Ahhhhh. During this season, beer is brewed with fresh hops that haven't been dried or processed in any way. Often brewers—especially those with larger commercial systems—brew with hops that have been processed and pressed into pellets. They may "dry hop" a beer as well by adding dried hops to the brew after they've boiled it. This gives it a fresher, brighter note. With a fresh hop beer, they're brewing with fresh-off-the-bine hops. This is sometimes called wet hopping.
- Darris Hurst
- Enjoying fresh hop season with a Feels Like the Fresh Time at Boneyard Pub.
You might be thinking, 'no way... I won't like a fresh hop beer. I hate bitter IPAs.' Well, guess what: fresh hopping a beer actually lessens the bitterness often found in a traditional NW IPA. Instead, it's fresh. It tastes green, or may even be citrusy, depending on the hops.
My very first fresh hop beer for 2019 was Boneyard's Feels Like the Fresh Time. Remember when we talked about bitterness? Well, this beer is at a 35 on the International Bittering Unit scale. That's a low IBU for an IPA. This beer is also what you would call a SMaSH beer—or Single Hop and Single Malt beer—because this beer uses 100% Coleman Farms Simcoe hops and 100% Maris Otter malt. The hops were picked, thrown on a truck and delivered to Boneyard's kettle ALL IN THE SAME DAY. You cannot get fresher than that, and at $5 a pint, that's phenomenal.
The thing I like most about a fresh hop beer is the aroma, and this beer was no exception. The smell is bright. It's like I crushed a hop in my hand and brought it up to my nose. It's vibrant and green. Interesting factoid... people who "don't like IPAs" also often don't like cilantro. Both smell and taste "soapy" to them.
OK, back to this Boneyard beer. There's absolutely no hop astringency in Feels Like the Fresh Time. On my palate I get light hints of melon and a lovely grassiness, sometimes called "barnyard." Ever so slightly I can pick up a spice, like black pepper, and in the finish a slight "dankness." Simcoe hops are fantastic. As the beer warmed up it became complex. The biscuit, bready flavor from the malt began to meld in with the hops and it became complex. I was not expecting that in this beer. Fresh hop beers warm are usually no bueno for me!
Boneyard is a must visit for Central Oregon visitors. Their main distribution is in keg form. Boneyard beers are what us beer geeks call "whales," or "white whales." They're hard to get and sought after outside of the Northwest. If you give a crowler of Boneyard to an East Coast beer geek, they're going to owe you big time.