In case you hadn’t heard, we’re at least 3 or 4 weeks into the Hop Harvest for 2019 and there’s a lot going on! August and September have become the hop industry’s time to shine, especially in recent years with the continued growth and interest in fresh hopped ales.
Being that we’re roughly halfway through harvest, there’s some exciting news to share, as well as some exciting new fresh hop beer releases, and more to come!
Crosby Hop Farm Recognized
It’s always exciting to see local companies do well, but even more so when they’ve become such a central part of the Pacific Northwest beer community. Just yesterday, B Lab, the global nonprofit that certifies and supports Certified B Corporations, announced that Crosby Hop Farm has been recognized as a “Best For The World 2019: Changemaker” recipient.
As the first hop supplier to be designated a Certified B Corporation in 2016, Crosby has not only set standards as a Salmon-Safe grower, they continue to build upon their core values of quality, innovation, sustainability, and community. The Changemaker designation recognizes B Corp organizations that “seek out more ways to improve their impact on the world” by providing a “significant improvement to its overall impact on workers, communities, the environment, and governance.”
“We are honored to be recognized as a Changemaker,” said Crosby Hop Farm’s CEO Blake Crosby. “Guided by the fact that we don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from future generations, it is our goal to make a positive and lasting impact while treading lightly on the land.”
Improvements undertaken by Crosby Hop Farm since B Corp certification in 2016 include:
● Scaled the 100% renewably powered commitment by doubling the on-farm solar array and increasing offsets through PGE’s Clean WindSM and Green SourceSM programs.
● Added land/wildlife conservation efforts through continued expansion of biodiversity restoration sites and pollinator gardens at the farm.
● Zero Waste Program expansion with an increasingly upstream focus.
● Expanded Quality Program utilizing innovative technologies in the lab and pellet plant to greatly reduce chemical, water, and energy use. As a result of the program developments, more technical jobs have been added.
● Added employee benefits including family-friendly schedules, increased parental leave, and recognizing International Women’s Day as a new company holiday honoring Jennifer Crosby’s legacy.
● More opportunities for employee advancement and development including computer literacy skills and English and Spanish language classes.
● Community involvement in Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana, St. Paul Rodeo Western Art Show and the Adopt-a-Farmer program.
Other “Best for the World” companies in the U.S. that are beer or spirits focused include: New Belgium (Overall and Environment), North Coast Brewing Co. (Environment), Crosby Hop Farm (Changemaker), and Fair Game Beverage Company (Community).
I’ve come to know well the folks at Crosby and couldn’t be happier to watch their continued success and growth as a sustainable, responsible company!
Fresh Hop Beer Update
What I love the most about Hop Harvest and the Fresh Hop Beer season – something like a fever across the Pacific Northwest each year, is that these beers can only be made right now.
Unlike the other popular Fall styles such as Pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest beers, these require the use of freshly picked hops, added to the beer within hours of harvest, not dried (done to engender a longer lifespan for processing and use in more traditional beers throughout the year). So you won’t see FH beers being released in July like Pumking – which makes taking advantage of the fresh hop beers available now all the more important.
So here’s a quick run down of what I know, what I’ve tried, and what’s to come during hop season. And I’m only one person, so if I haven’t seen or tried certain things yet, bear with me, I’m trying my best. Also know that it’s still early yet, so most of the FH beers available now are being brewed by smaller breweries that have already raced to the hop yards, not the larger scale craft brewers.
Back Pedal Brewing: earlier this week, Back Pedal in the Pearl District, released a Fresh Hop Centennial Version of their BMX Session IPA (4.5%). Fresh hopped in the fermenter, this one is super flavorful at a low ABV, and doesn’t possess that undesirable vegetal quality. Only available on draft at their taproom. They’ll also be releasing a FH Version of Abacaxi Pineapple Hefe w/ Amarillo, as well as Tropic Thunder IPA w/ Idaho 7.
Baerlic Brewing: on Tuesday Baerlic released both draft and canned versions of their Fresh Hop Punk Rock Time IPA featuring Strata hops. Cans and draft will be available at their second location soon, the Barley Pod Beer Hall, likely on Monday. I understand they plan to release 2 more fresh hopped beers – not certain about canning.
Breakside Brewing: they’ve just recently released three FH beers at Breakside – Freshbang IPA (West Coast with Strata), Fresh Gold (Golden Ale FH with Strata), and Fresh Strata Smashbang IPA. Last year they also made a FH version of What Rough Beast, so don’t be surprised if you see that out soon, if not a few more, especially at their more IPA focused Slabtown brewpub.
Culmination Brewing: last week Culmination released their first FH beer, a collaboration beer with Crosby Hop Farm, called Hop Shove It – a Session IPA with Centennial. Culmination has gotten quite good at utilizing liquid nitrogen, in what’s called a “shattering” technique, enabling greater lupulin extraction and less green matter in their batches. This one was quite tasty, light, and very citrus and pine forward. As they do most years, they plan to release a FH version of their flagship Phaedrus IPA, and the always coveted Momentary Lapse of Reason FH, which will be canned. The latter will feature fresh Citra hops, where last year’s utilized fresh El Dorado.
Ex Novo Brewing: usually one of the first beers out of the gate during FH season is Ex Novo’s FH Elliot IPA with Centennial. I’ve had it both on draft and from the can, and I preferred the draft version. Not certain how man other FH beers they’ll be making this season, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t release at least one more, if not 2, and likely another canning.
Grains of Wrath: while I’ve seen no evidence of a FH beer released yet this season, they did just do an Amarillo FH collab with Steve from Cloudburst Brewing called Fresh Hop Heavy Wetal IPA. Don’t be surprised if you see a few more FH releases from them, including a limited canning.
Hopworks Urban Brewery: as we’ve seen for a few years now, HUB has canned their Fresh Hop Totally Chill Hazy IPA (Centennial), which is the mellowest and most stable of the FH beers I’ve tried so far – a great place to start for those unaccustomed to the style. Today they’re releasing their Singing Bird FH Hazy IPA at their Powell location.
Level Beer: the most impressive amount of FH beers released this year thus far goes to Level Beer. They’ve release four already (that I know of)- FH Oktoberfest, FH Biscuits to a Bear ESB, FH Game On! IPA, and FH Stable Genius Hazy IPA. While I’ve only tried the first, it’s safe to safe that Level is bringing the FH game more than ever this year, which was quite strong last year as well.
Migration Brewing: while I don’t exactly have a bead on exactly what Migration is up to for Fresh Hop season, I have seen them doing some nitro extraction and are releasing their a Fresh Out of Portland IPA tomorrow. They have a few more FH beers in the works, and wouldn’t be surprised to see a FH Mo-haze-ic IPA as well.
Occidental Brewing: the first packaged and draft offering I saw this year was Occidental’s FH Pilsner with Hallertau Mittelfruh. Seen above at the top of this section, it was quite impressive – being both extremely drinkable, balanced, and sporting a variety of flavors. You’ll be lucky to still find it at this point, as it came out weeks ago, and we’re now quickly entering Oktoberfest season.
Ruse Brewing: the first FH release from Ruse just came out a few days ago – Even Fade IPA with FH Centennial & Meridian, plus the interesting spin of using Kolsch yeast. I know they’re planning to release a FH version of Dial M (which already has me drooling), plus a third fresh hop beer that may be canned.
Stormbreaker Brewing: the first release I tried from them was the FH Harmonica Solo, a Hazy IPA with Strata – I quite enjoyed it. They’ve also released a FH Strata version of their Triple Double DIPA. Not quite sure how many more are on the way, but I’d expect to see at least one or two more before the season is through.
As you might surmise, this is not a complete list, and if I missed any, feel free to weigh in on social media or in the comments below. Also keep in mind that some of the most popular hops haven’t even seen FH status yet, including Mosaic, Citra, Comet, and more! Just know that I’ll continue to seek these wonderful fresh beers out over the coming month+ and can only encourage you to try them while you can before they’re gone!