Hop fans: catch this fall trend quick!
Savor the fresh bite of wet-hop brews before they’re gone.
Hops are harvested in the fall, so while they’re fresh, several West Virginia craft breweries are working on limited-release wet-hop beers.
What IS wet hopping?
Beer gets its bitter tang from the hop flower. Most of the time, these pinecone-shaped hops get dried out and turned into pellets for brew making.
For wet hopping, farmers harvest green hops, pack them in ice and ship them to a brewery that night. The entire window from farm to kettle is 24 hours. Otherwise, the hop flowers rot.
Because of the time-sensitive process, wet hop brews are fairly uncommon. But several West Virginia breweries crafted batches this year, so get ‘em while you can!
Big Timber Brewing Company | Elkins
Head to Big Timber Brewing Company to try their Wild, Wonderful West Virginia Wet Hop Ale. Since the star ingredient is so fresh, you can taste that particular harvest’s character. It’s hard to predict exactly what you’ll get with each batch.
“Soil, altitude, rainfall… all of those contribute to a hop’s unique characteristic,” said Sam Mauzy, sales manager and business partner. “This year’s taste is different— more earthy than the typical American hop.”
Big Timber gets organic Cascade hops from Spring Water Farms in Fairview.
“They pick hops that night and send them off so we get them the next morning, when we throw them right in the brew kettle,” Sam said.
The mellow golden beer has a slightly sweet and citrusy flavor. You might even get a hint of herbs.
“It’s limited, so we’ll only have it for a few months,” Sam said. “Right now, we have two 30-barrel batches, so that’s 2,000 gallons, or 120 kegs.”
North End Tavern | Parkersburg
Chris Hopkins, the North End Tavern’s head brewer, is an energetic tinkerer. He has made beer since 1995, and even grows his own hops.
He creates a special wet-hop beer every year. This fall, you’re in for a treat: Scotch Harvest, a mahogany brew with an off-white, creamy head.
“As far as flavors go, I’d describe them as citrusy and piney, fruity and floral,” Chris said. “Most people would probably describe our wet-hop brews as ‘grapefruity.’ ”
He reckons there will be 14 kegs of Scotch Harvest available by the end of October.
Other breweries craft wet-hopped beers, too, so explore the WV Craft Beer Trail to uncover more fresh hop taste!
Which WV wet-hop beer is your favorite?
This post was last updated on March 16, 2022