Citrusy, grassy, bright, earthy, tropical. In November those words might describe the year's Beaujolais Nouveau wine, but at the end of hop season they can just as easily refer to wet-hopped beers.
Most local craft brewers buy their hops fresh from Hops-Meister in nearby Clearlake. When the hops are ripe, they are picked, packaged, rushed to the brewery, and added to a waiting brew kettle to to make fresh-hopped brews. Brewers originally made wet-hopped beers primarily for their own enjoyment, but as more drinkers develop an appreciation of craft beers, connoisseurs are seeking out these hyperseasonal draft brews.
Almanac Beer Company, Fresh Hop IPA
This year they're doing one draft-only IPA featuring Cascades and Gargoyle hops. The IPA will be released in early September and available at The Beer Hall, Toronado, and Whole Foods Steep Brew.
Magnolia Brewery Gastropub and Brewery, High Time Harvest Ales
This year Magnolia went all out and is making four versions of their High Time Harvest Ale. Each is brewed with the Maris Otter malt and fermented with their house yeast strain. The only difference among them is that each is made with a single hop varietal: Ivanhoe, Gargoyle, Simcoe, or Mosaic.
Dave McLean, Brewmaster/Owner at Magnolia explains, “It's messy and a pain to brew these beers on our Haight Street system but we get so much enjoyment out of the resulting wet hop flavors that it makes it all worthwhile."
The Ivanhoe and Gargoyle hops went on tap early last week and are currently at the Haight Street and Third Street locations. The second two beers, made with Simcoe and Mosaic, haven't been brewed yet and are expected to arrive in mid-September.
21st Amendment Brewery, Harvest Moon and SmaSH
21A has two wet-hopped American Pale Ales on tap: Harvest Moon, which uses Cascade and Ivanhoe hops and SmaSH, which uses Chinook. Both should be available for another week or two.
Social Kitchen and Brewery, The Freak
Brewmaster Kim Sturdavant already released five wet hopped beers in August and Social’s sixth and final beer will be tapped Tuesday, August 26. Sturdavant described the series finale as the "Magnum opus of our weird one-off wet hopped casks: a Belgian Wheat conditioned with brettanomyces, rose balm, and wet Cascade hops."
Speakeasy Ales and Lagers, Prohibition Ale
Kushall Hall, Head Brewer noted, “We added a second wet-hop addition of fresh Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook hops, picked fresh five hours before it went into a batch of Prohibition Ale." You’ll can find it on tap in few craft beer bars in the city and in their tap room.