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Fresh hop season is here, and we're stoked.

Fresh hops play a pivotal role in the world of craft beer, offering a unique and vibrant flavour profile that sets them apart from their dried or pelletized counterparts. These green, unprocessed hop cones are harvested during the annual hop harvest season, typically in late summer or early fall. Unlike their processed counterparts, fresh hops are often used within hours of being picked, preserving their volatile aromatic compounds and delivering a burst of fresh, earthy, and floral notes to the beer.

Brewers (and brew drinkers) eagerly await this short window of opportunity to brew with fresh hops, as it allows more wiggle room and opportunity to experiment with different hops and create seasonal one-of-a-kind brews.


One of the key factors in using fresh hops effectively is their proximity to the brewery. Brewers that have hop farms nearby can quickly scoop up these delicate ingredients, maximizing the freshness, and therefore intensifying the taste. We're lucky enough to have Maple Bay Hop Farm about 45 minutes from the brewery. Sure, closer could be nice, but a little field trip never hurt nobody!

To maintain the hops' peak flavour and aroma, they're usually added to the brewing process during the whirlpool stage or in the fermenter, totally bypassing the traditional boil. This is called wet hopping.

Wet hopping retains the hops' essential oils, resulting in a beer with a distinctive, grassy, and herbal character. The use of fresh hops has become a something of a tradition among craft brewers, leading to the emergence of seasonal fresh hop beers that capture the spirit of the harvest season.


Did you know...

Volatile Aromas: Fresh hops are prized for their volatile aromatic compounds, which can be up to twice as concentrated as those in dried hops. These compounds give fresh hop beers a burst of intense and vibrant aroma, ranging from floral and grassy to citrusy and piney.

This explosive fragrance is a delightful experience for beer enthusiasts and adds complexity to the flavour profile.

Speedy Brewing: The clock is ticking when it comes to using fresh hops in brewing. Unlike dried hops, which can be stored for extended periods, fresh hops need to be used within hours or days of being harvested to capture their peak flavour and aroma.

The sense of urgency adds an element of excitement and challenge to the brewing process, as brewers must plan their brew days around the hop harvest schedule, which can be tricky.

Location, location, LOCATION: Fresh hop beers often have a strong regional character because of their reliance on local hop farms. Breweries located near hop-growing regions, such as the Pacific Northwest (lucky us!) in the United States/Canada or parts of Germany, have a distinct advantage in obtaining the freshest hops.

The connection to the local agricultural community and the use of indigenous hop varieties create a sense of terroir in fresh hop beers, making them a unique reflection of their surroundings.

These photos were taken during this years hop harvest at Maple Bay Hop Farms.

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