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It’s the freshest time of the year. Or, at least, it will be for a short while longer.
We’re talking about fresh hop season — the wonderful, if short-lived, window when brewers have the opportunity to toss freshly-harvested hops into their beer kettles.
Using fresh, or wet, hops as opposed to the typical dried or pelleted versions adds different aromatic and flavour dimensions. Also, considering how hops thrive as a crop locally, sipping fresh-hopped beers offers a fun way to celebrate the regional harvest season.
Here are three East Vancouver cans recently found on shelves:
Brassneck Brewery Normcore American Pale Ale ($5.25 for 473mL can, available through the brewery and select private beer stores)
Main Street’s Brassneck again released a handful of fresh hopped beers this fall, including Normcore. American Pale Ales stylistically trend toward being boldly fruity, floral and hoppy. Normcore doesn’t bend the norm but thanks to the addition of fresh Chinook hops — sourced from Myrtle Meadows in the Pemberton Valley — the aromatics and freshness get cranked up a couple notches. Bold aromas of tropical fruit and pine meet a fresh, fulsome stance in this deep golden, slightly cloudy pale ale that finishes with a satisfying crisp and bitter kick. Pair with a pot of chili and some fresh crusty bread for true autumnal bliss.
Bottom line: B+ Fulsome and fruity
Luppolo Brewing Company Greener Pastures West Coast Pilsner ($5.64 for 473mL can, available through the brewery and select private beer stores)
Generally, fresh hopped beers steer towards ales. But hops feature in myriad beer styles, so it comes as no surprise to find Luppolo’s fresh hopped Pilsner. Categorized as a West Coast Pilsner to highlight the beer’s hoppy prominence, the bottom-fermented and hopped up Greener Pastures lager is brewed with hundreds of pounds of fresh Cascade Hops from Burnside Brewing in Delta, and fermented with the brewery’s house lager yeast. The fresh hops were added at the end of the boil to maintain fresh aromatics, which abound in melon, tropical fruit and citrus — adding delicious dimension to this crisp and refreshing Pilsner.
Bottom line: A- Pair with fried chicken
R&B Brewing Co. So Fresh and So Green IPA ($5.39 for 473mL can, available through the brewery and select private beer stores)
This is classic and quintessential fresh hopped beer. Admittedly, while it’s enjoyable to see different takes on incorporating the hop harvest, for many years fresh hops were pretty much synonymous with West Coast India Pale Ale (IPA). Indeed, entire fall beer festivals in Portland are dedicated to fresh hopped IPAs. Thus cracking a can of R&B’s So Fresh and So Green invokes knowing nostalgia, firing up the tastebuds with ample floral, citrus, and dank notes thanks to the addition of B.C.-grown whole cone Vista hops straight off the bine and into the brew kettle. Crank on the Outkast!
Bottom line: B+ Invokes lip-smacking nostalgia
The Swirl: Hopscotch Festival of Whisky, Beer & Spirits
Hopscotch returns for a week of tastings and master classes from Nov. 20-26. The more intimate master classes take place downtown at GRNHSE at The Refinery (1115 Granville St., Vancouver), offering learning experiences on a variety of whisk (e) y topics. The Grand Tasting Hall will again take place at the PNE Forum (2901 E Hastings St, Vancouver) from 6-10 p.m. on Nov. 24 and 25. For complete details and to purchase tickets, head to www.hopscotchfestival.com.
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