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Welcome to fall!
The season officially began at 11:50 pm PT on Friday, making today the first full day of fall, and for different people that means different things.
Many look forward to pumpkin spice lattes and sweater weather; others are amped for the start of hockey season and playoff baseball; but a lot of beer lovers are ready to indulge in their favourite fresh hop creation.
If you’re unfamiliar, let’s start with a bit of a description.
Fall is hop harvesting season, but they’re usually dried to preserve them for the upcoming year. However, that’s not the case with fresh hop beers.
They’re made with undried cones that are rushed straight from the field into the beer, which produces vibrant floral and grassy notes, as well as intoxicating aromas.
So now that we’re up to speed on what a fresh hop beer is, what British Columbian breweries like to dabble in the popular seasonal creation?
The short answer is: A lot of them.
Let’s start in the Okanagan, where Penticton’s Cannery Brewing has gotten ahead of the curve and already released their 2023 Fresh Hop Extra Pale Ale.
It was released last weekend and is brewed with fresh Cascade hops from Northwest Hop Farms in Chilliwack.
“To maximize the quality of those delicious fresh hops, they were picked and delivered to us the morning of Aug. 30, and the beer was brewed that afternoon,” the brewery explained.
“In addition to the fresh hops, we added Simcoe Frozen Fresh Cryo Hops from Yakima Chief Hops and Golden Promise malts.”
On Wednesday, Yellow Dog Brewing, which also has a Penticton location to go with their original brewery in Port Moody, teased their fresh hop creations for the year.
In the past, Yellow Dog has made multiple fresh hop creations in the fall, and it appears as though they will do that again.
They released the Alpha Dog Fresh Hop Pale Ale, New Tricks Fresh Hop Hazy IPA and Little Dog Syndrome Fresh Hop Double IPA in 2022, but we’ll have to wait and see what they have coming down the pipeline this year.
You can also expect Victoria’s Phillips Brewing’s annual fresh hop creation to be hitting shelves in October, as the Green Reaper Fresh Hop IPA is something beer lovers around BC can look forward to every fall.
Driftwood Brewery, another Victoria gem that's just a five minute drive over the Bay Street bridge from Phillips, also has an annual release, the Sartori Harvest Fresh Hop IPA, which should be hitting liquor store shelves any day now.
Backcountry Brewing in Squamish, featured in last week’s beer column, is another brewery you can anticipate a fresh hop beer from, as they release their Maple Bay IPA annually.
We can’t list them all, but there will be plenty of breweries across the province releasing fresh hop creations in the coming weeks.
Make sure to check in with your favourite local breweries in person or on social media so you don’t miss out on this classic fall beer, as these limited editions never last too long!
Josh Duncan is the NowMedia news director and a craft beer lover. Reach him at [email protected]. His beer column appears every Saturday afternoon in this space.