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Co-op Brew Corner: Get Hopped Up

Fall is a special time of year for hop heads and beer fans. September and October is hop harvest season across the Pacific Northwest. According to many sources British King Henry VIII (some claim James I) disdained hops, calling them a “wicked and pernicious weed.” Currently, hops are one of the fundamental ingredients for making beer, but they have a controversial and relatively short history in Western brewing (less than 1500 years). These days hops are certainly growing in popularity.

Photo Source: Hop Growers of America

According to the 2016 Hop Harvest Report, U.S. hop acreage is in its fifth consecutive year of growth, up another 17% in the Pacific Northwest and 18.5% nationally. Northwest producers pulled in a record 91.8 million pounds of hops, over 96% of the US crop. Currently America produces 40% of the global hop supply.

Hop Artistry

Dried hops – flowers of the plant Humulus lupulus – have been used to impart bitter flavor and freshness to beer for centuries. In early autumn – with fresh hops on the market – many brewers take inspiration from “fresh” or “wet” hop infusions. There are over 80 commercially available types of hops on the market, and new varieties are being born and bred all the time. 

Brewing is the craft of blending science with artistry. Fresh hop ales exemplify this adventure. Toast the bounty of the season with seasonal ales, made with newly plucked hops sent from the farm and added to the fermentation tanks within 48 hours of harvest. Elusive and short-lived, these fresh hop ales are a one-time release. Don’t miss a sip!

Two Beers Fresh Hop IPA

~ 6.2% alcohol by volume ~ 70 IBU – one of the earliest seasonal releases, this fresh hop ale is a bright, fruity delight. It showcases four types of Pacific Northwest-grown spice: Amarillo, Cascade, Citra and whole cone fresh Centennial hops. Refreshing and crisp, Two Beers features the first of the season Centennial hops from fields in Yakima, WA.

Pair it with: Lemongrass Chicken, BBQ pulled pork or roasted sweet potatoes. On sale now for $9.99 per 6-pk, 12 oz cans.

Fremont Fresh Hop Pale Ale: Centennial

~ 6% alcohol by volume ~ 50 IBU

This single varietal hopped pale ale is the first in Fremont’s Field to Ferment series of four distinct fresh hop ales. This Centennial-laced pale is made with copious amounts of hops from Carpenter Ranches, a sixth generation family hop farm in Granger, WA. The Field to Ferment series chronicles the hop harvest in Yakima, and highlights different hop varieties as they ripen.

Field to Ferment represents a colossal collaboration between the brewery and Washington hop farmers. Brewers make countless trips between the fields in Yakima and the brewery, loaded with thousands of pounds of hops. Each 80-barrel batch contain about 1,300 pounds of fresh hops, brewed within 24 hours of harvest. Enjoy this beer absolutely fresh, and enjoy the adventure this beer represents. Fremont’s Field to Ferment is now $9.99 per 6-pk, 12 oz cans.

Pair it with: crab cakes, grilled salmon, or curried squash soup.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.