Fall in B.C. usually brings wet weather with it and for beer lovers, it also brings "wet hopping," On The Coast beer columnist Rebecca Whyman says.
Wet hopping, also called "fresh hopping," refers to using freshly-picked hops while brewing, rather than dried or pelleted hops. Whyman says most of a hop harvest is dried but some is used fresh by intrepid brewers.
"We are very lucky in the Lower Mainland to be located in a hop-friendly growing environment," she told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn. "This means that our brewers can get out to the hop farms to obtain fresh hops as soon as they get word that they are ready and use those immediately to brew beer."
Whyman says many brewers drive out to the Sartori Ranch at Cultus Lake and B.C. Hop Farm in Abbotsford to pick up the hops and then drive them back to the brewery that same day for use.
She says fresh hops lend a "grassier" flavour to the beer. Because the oils are fresh, they are also smoother, lending a more rounded flavour than sharp bitterness.
"You have to drink fresh-hopped beers soon because the hop oils ... begin to degrade immediately after being picked," she said. "The longer you wait to drink that fresh-hopped beer, the less of the hoppy goodness will remain."
Here are some of Whyman's recommendations for fresh-hopped beers to check out.
Yellow Dog Alpha Dog Wet-Hopped Pale Ale
"This won people's choice at the B.C. Hop Fest. At 5.2 per cent alcohol, it's a juicy, hop-forward beer with grapefruit, melon and lime flavour. Crisp and hoppy, it really is a crowd pleaser! They also brewed a Funky Farm Fresh fresh-hopped farmhouse ale. You can get that in the tasting room."
Strange Fellows Hop Devil Wet-Hopped Pale Ale
"Cascade hops take centre stage in this earthy and fruity beer. I could just sniff the hoppy nose of this one all day long! 4.5 per cent alcohol, available in the tasting room."
Steamworks Brewing Yak Attack and Hop Attack
"Yak Attack is made from Simcoe hops from the Yakima Valley in Washington. It is a fruity and earthy pale ale that is winning friends and influencing people. The Hop Attack boasts that it took a mere four hours from farm to kettle. It uses only B.C. Centennial hops for a citrusy aroma. Both are available in 650 ml bottles and on tap at the tasting room."
With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast