Traveling through Vermont for school-related projects occasionally has its perks. I stopped at the tiny town of Saxton’s River and found that their convenient store had a few beers that I’d never seen. When I came across the Sierra Nevada Harvest, I was immediately interested because it is described as a “Wet Hop Ale.” I had no idea what that meant so I picked it up to bring it home.
A wet hopped ale is, as far as I can tell, something that Sierra Nevada decided to experiment with. It is named Harvest because the hops are freshly harvested and used in beer without ever being dried – an interesting experiment in taste.
Harvest Ale features Cascade and Centennial hops from the Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington. These hops are harvested and shipped as “wet” un-dried hops—the same day they are picked—to our brewery in Chico where our brewers eagerly wait to get them into the brew kettle while their oils and resins are still at their peak.
It poured with a bit of sediment and particulate suspended in a copper colored matrix and floating lazily around the glass. There was some head that provided a fresh, citrus smell. It was the brightest hop smell I’ve had in a while – not grassy but more tart, like citric acid… without being harsh. It was almost a warm, inviting smell instead of a “get ready to be smacked in the face by hops” scent.
The taste is different in a great way. It has the flavors of a strong IPA. The taste stings the lips and zings the salivary glands, but leaves me desperately wanting another sip. It’s one f those beers that you can’t believe you’re consuming so quickly. There is a lot of flavor there, and it is certainly a different flavor than any other IPA I’ve sampled. It may have to do with the fact that we’re getting a lot more of the hop oils from the fresh hops. An interesting process.
If I become addicted to home brewing (which I suspect may happen) I’d love to try and make the same recipe with dried and fresh hops and see how they differ, kind of like I have done before with casked vs. not casked beer. I’m a science geek at heart, so finding out what subtle changes to the process can make a difference is intriguing to me.