Growing Hops: Beer

2016 Harvest Pale Ale

So, what’s the end game with all this CoHop Project and gardeners with their hop plants?

Well, the short answer is beer. Specifically Green Hop Beer.

Normally, the hops used in beer are well processed; primarily dried and vacuum packed cones, but also turned into hop pellets.  And it’s a good job they are processed to give them longevity so they can be sent around the world and stored by breweries ready for the next batch.

Green Hop Beer

When you use hops in their fresh state, directly into the brewhouse from the bines then you’re making what is termed ‘Green Hop Beer’ aka ‘Wet Hop Beer’ in North America and occasionally ‘Fresh Hop Beer’ around the world.

So, every harvest season we, at Old Town Brewery, gather up as many fresh hops as we can and brew a seasonal special, very limited edition, Green Hop Craft Beer.

Ideally, this style should be drank young and vibrant within a few months.

This means you’re trialling the uniqueness of the beer which could be:

  • Hints of grassiness like a good Sauvingnon Blanc wine
  • A little puckering on the lips / sense of astringent bitterness
  • Intensely fresh citrus fruits

That’s not to say you’ll always notice these traits for all green hop beers.  They’re unpredictable and not being quite sure how it will turn out is part of its charm.

Harvest Ale form Fresh Hops - Old Town Brewery

The Mystery Beer

Normally, the technical properties of hops are well defined – not so with this seasonal treat.  Through lab testing you’d expect to now all the key hop content within your commercial hops, giving levels such as acids (alpha and beta), oils, humulene and myrcene.

When picking directly off the bines in your garden or in the wild you just don’t know what you’re getting.   You’ll have a reasonable idea, particularly of the acid % just by knowing the hop variety.  However, these are affected by season and by the maturity of hop at harvest.

That’s why we tend to aim for an American Pale Ale for our Green Hop Beers.  Middle of the road for bitterness, turning roughly into an IPA if we overshoot and an easy Pale / Golden if it’s all a little tame.

So, come the Autumn keep an eye out for fresh Green Hops beers across the country and enjoy a local, seasonal speciality for a limited period only.

2016 Harvest Pale Ale

Our own CoHop Green Hop beer available locally to Swindon from October every year.


Check out our other tips and guides pages:

Growing Hops:  Size / Space

Growing Hops: Planting

Growing Hops:  Hop Varieties / Types

Growing Hops: Anatomy

Growing Hops: taking ‘cuttings’

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