The other day a series of videos were posted by the folks at Bathtub Row Brewing in Los Alamos that showed the harvesting of the fresh, wet hops for their Ancones Wet Hop IPA. That was followed by Wednesday’s surprise arrival of Fresh Hop Eliot IPA at Ex Novo Brewing in Corrales (it was made at the Portland brewery).
Yes, wet hop season is upon us, a sometimes overlooked happy start to the fall season that is traditionally dominated by Oktoberfest-style lagers and, eventually, those pesky pumpkin beers.
For those new to craft beer, or at least the brewing process, most hops are dried and pelletized for longer shelf life, always stored cold. The bulk of all beers are brewed year-round with these hops. Every year, however, some of the hops are purchased whole and fresh, and then thrown into beers around the country to create some of the most unique brews of the season.
While I have not had the chance to ascend the mountain to Los Alamos, I did make a point of stopping at Ex Novo to try the Fresh Hop Eliot. There was at least one keg on draft, though the staff was unsure if another was chilling in the walk-in cooler across the parking lot in the brewery. Either way, get on over there to try it yourself if you are so inclined.
This Eliot was brewed with a heaping amount of fresh Centennial hops. It is a wonderful cascade of juicy, fruity flavors with a hint of pine. It coats the palate from start to finish, while providing a wonderful aroma. Basically, this is what a hop-forward beer should be, at least in my humble opinion.
The Fresh Hop Eliot is also for sale in four-pack cans. I took some to Franz Solo, who is on paternity leave, and once he attained some semblance of rational consciousness, he messaged back to announce his ecstatic approval of the beer.
Other breweries are likely hard at work at some stage of their own beers. Toltec head brewer Kaylynn McKnight posted photos on Instagram of her first wet hop brew being made. Other breweries may be brewing, may have already brewed, or perhaps they are just waiting on the freshest of fresh hops to arrive. We can only hope that Bosque’s award-winning Acequia Wet Hop IPA is in the works for this year.
This is a fun time for brewers, hop farmers (including several in our state), and customers alike. We take this moment to salute the wet hop beers for making these last lingering days of summer heat a lot more fun and refreshing.