Fresh-hopped beers show a whole different side of the hops game. The hops flavors are brighter, fresher, and more delicate than the perfumey bitterness we're used to other hoppy brews. Think: fresh-cut grass, meadow flowers, and just-peeled citrus.
The point with fresh-hops is also not to totally overload your senses with hoppiness, which would muddle the uber-fresh flavors and aromas. There are some exceptions, of course, but fresh hops are usually best showcased in pale ales where they don't have to compete with either super-sweet malts or a lot of bitterness.
It also takes a lot of fresh hops to fully flavor a batch of beer. For this reason, batches of fresh-hopped beer tend to be small and sold in limited releases. If you see a bottle, snap it up! You might not get another chance to try this year's batch. Look for both "fresh-hopped" and "wet-hopped" on the label; both indicate the use of fresh hops in the brewing process.
Fresh-Hopped Beers to Try
• Chasin' Freshies from Deschutes Brewery
• Harvest Ale from Founders Brewing Co.
• Fresh Hop Pale Ale from Great Divide Brewing Company
• Autumnation from Sixpoint Brewery
• Chatoe Rogue Wet-Hopped Ale from Rogue Ales
Which fresh-hopped beers do you like best?
(Images: Deschutes Brewery, Sixpoint Brewery, and Founders Brewing Co.)