What’s this “Fresh Hop” All About?
In late August through September, hop harvest in the Yakima Valley is a busy and exciting six weeks. It’s the only time of the year that hops are harvested and available to make “Fresh Hop” beers. Using just harvested hops adds an interesting layer of fresh and vibrant flavors that you just don’t get from dried hops. Two years ago, we decided to take part in this unique time of year and make a small batch Fresh Hop cider. Hops come in a spectrum of flavors and aromas, from piney and citrusy to floral and fruity or even earthy and nutty. Through many trials, Mosiac became our hop of choice for our Fresh Hop cider. Mosiac hops add the fruity and floral qualities that we are looking for to accentuate the same characteristics in the cider.
This year we drove down to Yakima Golding Farms in Toppenish, to pick up hops that were harvested just moments before we arrived. We toured the processing plant and kiln and spent some time talking with Scott Varnum, a hop researcher, about the growing process and everything that goes into a successful harvest. Working with and supporting other farmers is very important to us. It’s the basis of our community.
How We Make It
Just moments after the bines are sent through pickers to be separated, we pick the hops up and have them in one of our tanks in a matter of hours. Cider is pumped over the hops and left to steep for a week. Extra attention is given to the time the hops are resting in the cider. We are looking for the correct amount of aroma that will give the drinker the fruity and floral notes while not overpowering the apples. After one week we gently filter the cider from the tank leaving the hops behind. We balance the cider with fresh juice and again filter it, this time into a brite tank. The “Brite” tank is where ciders are carbonated and finished, ready to package. Our cider makers say their favorite part about making this cider is the aroma (of fresh hops) after they make the cider. It’s not something you smell every day around here.
We are excited to pour this cider at the Fresh Hop Ale Festival on October 5th. It will also be on tap at our Cider Bar and select locations for a limited time. We hope you get a chance to try it out!