Those of you not into Pumpkin beers may be relieved to know that fall seems to have another seasonal standard: the wet-hopped ale. For those who don’t know, a wet-hopped ale uses fresh whole hop cones rather than the more familiar hop pellets which are dried and processed. They present certain practical problems for brewers since unprocessed hops are only good for about 24 hours. Since the hop harvest occurs in the fall, these beers have a sort of built-in seasonal quality.
Wet hopped ales are becoming more common, really having been introduced to North America by Sierra Nevada’s Harvest and Estate ales. Now with Ontario emerging as a hop growing region, we are starting to see more and more of these beers hitting the LCBO.
Having had a few wet hopped beers, I can definitely say there is a noticeable difference. Bitterness and familiar notes of citrus are present, but restrained in comparison. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one gets more herbal and plant-like notes with sometimes surprising tastes such as green onion coming in.
Here are 3 from Ontario:
Amsterdam Autumn Hop
5.6% ABV – This beer is probably the closest I’ve had to a traditional APA, perhaps due to the use of Cascade. Nonetheless, expect earthier notes with a slight mint note coming in the finish. $4.95 / 500 mL bottle at the LCBO
Nickel Brook Wet Hop Ontario Pale Ale
5.3% ABV / 40 IBUs – This beer definitely gives you the full wet hopped effect. Expect notes of chlorophyll and lemongrass. May not be ‘hoppy’ enough in the traditional sense for the experienced APA/IPA drinker. $6.95 / 750mL bottle at the LCBO
Trafalgar Hop Nouveau
5% ABV – Alas, Trafalgar’s reputation precedes it again. To me, it appears that Trafalgar did not adjust for the more subtle characteristics of fresh hops and didn’t add enough. The beer comes off as grainy and slightly mealy with slightly jarring notes of wet earth. $6.95 / 650 mL bottle at the LCBO.