PORTLAND, Ore. (MainStreet) — In the green, far-flung corners of the beer world, this is one of the most wonderful times of the year: fresh hops season.
There are drinkers who equate this time of year with the nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger of pumpkin ales and others who raise a stein of milder Oktoberfest brews. But there's an entire corner of the beer universe that – for a handful of weeks in late summer and early fall – is either rushing between farms and backyard trellises to pick as many fresh hops as they can, rushing those hops straight into kettles to brew floral, sweet beers or rushing around to local breweries to drink those brews before their flavor dissipates or they disappear completely. They're not as bitter as a typical hoppy beer and, hovering around 5% alcohol by volume, aren't nearly as potent.
Though brewers and beer fans in hop-growing regions such as the Pacific Northwest usually benefit most from the hop harvest season and big brewers get left out of the game altogether, the logistical wonder of modern commercial delivery has made it possible for even remote breweries to get in on the action. The fresh hops being used by brewers at the Craft Brewers Alliance's Widmer Brewing facility in Portland bear a distinct resemblance to those being flown in by brewers on the Atlantic.
After taking a few long, hard whiffs and sips of some of the best fresh hop brews the season has to offer, we've put together a list of 10 great fresh hop brews to get ahold of while the season lasts: