The Freshest of Craft Beer Shares

The fresh hop beer season has all but come and gone, and it was quite a memorable one to say the least! It seemed like more local breweries than ever jumped on the fresh hop bandwagon this year, which brought consumers a larger selection and more diverse range of styles. This made for some tough decisions when picking out what fresh hop beers to try.

Last year, I hosted a Fresh Hop Beer Bracket, eventually crowning Yellow Dog Brewing’s Alpha Dog Fresh Hop Pale Ale as “The Freshest”. Although pitting these seasonal brews against each other was fun, this year we went a different route – a good old fashioned beer share.

Photos of individual beers are courtesy of Beertiful BC

Mount Arrowsmith Harvest Fresh IPA

ABV 6.5%

This is the first fresh-hop release from the relatively new brewery out of Parksville/Qualicum Beach that was recently crowned as BC Brewery of the Year at the 2017 BC Beer Awards. The Harvest Fresh featured a nice balance of hops and malts on the body, with a solid bitter finish. I’m looking forward to trying more beers from Mt. Arrowsmith after having this delicious fresh hop option!

Mt. Arrowsmith Brewing fresh hop craft beer vanpours parksville qualicum beach

Parallel 49 x Brew Culture Amalgamation Fresh Hopped Double IPA

ABV: 8% | IBU: 40

It’s all in the name for this fresh hop double IPA, as many local breweries amalgamated to create this brew. Breweries in this collaboration include Boombox Brewing, Dageraad Brewing, Doan’s Craft Brewing, Four Winds Brewing, Hearthstone Brewery, Powell Brewery, Bomber Brewing. This project was facilitated by Brew Culture and was also in partnership with Direct Tap. According to Graham With, head brewer of Parallel 49, brewers from each brewery were shuttled down together to Yakima Valley to pick out the 300 pounds of fresh Amarillo hops that went into this double IPA!

brew culture direct tap parallel 49 brewing fresh hopped double IPA vanpours

The result? A boozy IPA with a decent bitterness throughout. There’s a grassy, hop resin flavour that adds some complexity to the brew. Solid malt profile as well. I wouldn’t classify this as an ‘easy-drinking’ IPA by any means, so it’s best to share (hence, the bottle/can share). Nevertheless, it’s a deliciously interesting double IPA!

brew culture direct tap parallel 49 brewing fresh hopped double IPA vanpours

Spinnakers Estate Sooke Bitter Fresh Hopped

ABV: 5% | IBU: 40

Spinnakers has been producing some phenomenal seasonal beers lately. This fresh-hopped ESB featuring a mixture of fresh hops, including some that were grown at the brewery, was no different. Some nice malt and toffee flavours came through in this one. At 40 IBUs, it wasn’t overly bitter but still had some great hop notes. I hadn’t had an ESB in while, so this was a fantastic re-introduction to the style.

Spinnakers Estate Sooke Bitter Fresh Hopped craft beer Victoria vanpours

Main Street Cashmere Fresh Hopped Farmhouse Ale

ABV: 5% | IBU: 25

A fresh-hopped farmhouse ale? Is that even a thing? I thought only IPAs and Pale Ales have hops?! All jokes aside, this was an interesting and well received curve-ball in our bottle share lineup. Tart upfront with a coconut aroma. Nice peach flavours and a slightly bitter finish. This was a dang tasty beer!

Main Street Brewing Farmhouse Ale Fresh Hop craft beer vancouver vanpours

Phillips “Lumberjacked” Fresh Hop Pale Ale

ABV: 5.6%

This beer was not-so-coincidentally named after the new “lumberjack” hop that was used in the recipe. It was more malt than hop forward, with a smooth, creamy mouth-feel and dialed-back bitter finish. It’s definitely a brew that you can enjoy a few of.

Phillips Brewing & Malting Co Lumberjack Hop Fresh Hop Pale Ale victoria craft beer vanpours

Yellow Dog Alpha Dog

ABV: 5.2% | IBU: 60

Knowing how good this beer was last year, I had high expectations for the 2017 rendition. Not surprisingly, it was damn good. A perfect balance of hop and malt flavours, with some subtle citrus notes to boot. Next year I need to pick up a flat of this…

Dageraad Wet-Hopped Blonde

ABV: 7.5%

Leave it to Dageraad Brewing to make a complex beer that hides it’s alcohol percentage a little too well. The wet/fresh-hopped version of one of their mainstays was bitter upfront with banana and bubblegum notes. Yes, you read that correctly…bubblegum notes! Or maybe that’s all the beer talking?

Dageraad Brewing Wet-hopped Blonde Burnaby VanPours

Phillips Green Reaper Fresh Hop IPA

ABV: 6.5%

Apparently one fresh hopped beer in 2017 wasn’t enough for the folks at Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. The Green Reaper was hoppy up front and sported a dry and bitter finish. Just as enjoyable as last year.

Phillips Brewing & Malting Co Fresh Hop IPA craft beer Victoria vanpours

Tin Whistle Fresh Hop Pale Ale

ABV: 5.6% | 37 IBU

This is the first beer I’ve tried from the Penticton-based brewery, Tin Whistle Brewing, and they definitely impressed me. Their fresh hop pale ale was well balanced and featured a grassy, resin aftertaste. I think the kids are calling this hop flavour “dank” nowadays. The bitterness on this one was fairly mild as well. I’m looking forward to trying more from Tin Whistle.

Tin Whistle Brewing_fresh hop

Best Case Brewing Foster’s Fresh Hop Pale Ale

My good friend Casey Foster, who is also a guest writer for Van Pours (read his Field House Brewing article here), has been diving headfirst into home brewing in the last year or so. He recently branded his home brewing project Best Case Brewing and has produced his first fresh hop beer. It’s tough to compare this to a lineup of amazing fresh hop beers from award-winning breweries across the province, but the Foster’s Fresh Hop Pale Ale held its own!

The hop of choice for Foster’s Fresh Hop was Cascade. It had a nice balance between subtle grassiness and big Pacific Northwest flavor, with BC malt and hops. Stay tuned for a more in-depth article of Best Case Brewing, coming in the not-so-distant future.

Best Case Brewing Fresh Hop Pale Ale vanpours Casey Foster

Big Ridge Fresh Hop Session IPA

ABV: 4.5% | IBU: 30

This was a welcomed change-up from the hoppier and more bitter IPAs and double IPAs. A solid tasting beer from Big Ridge brewpub out of Surrey. Props to Todd for picking up a full growler of it!

vanpours Big Ridge Brewing fresh hop

Here’s a few photos of the lads enjoying a plethora of fresh hop beers:

Fresh Hop bottle share_1
Fresh Hop bottle share_2

Thanks to everyone that participated in this year’s fresh hop beer share and brought their favourites, to Corey (@beertifulbc) for taking photos, and to the breweries that hooked us up with product. I’m already looking forward to next fall when the local craft breweries bless us with more amazing fresh-hopped brews!

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