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Where Beer Meets Science: Experimenting with frozen fresh hops

For many, fall is a beloved time of year; the air starts to cool, holidays are just around the corner and it’s almost time to ditch the summer workout routine and start building up that winter layer. For us, fall brings about an all important event that sets the tone for the next year of beer production, hop harvest!

Each year we travel to the northwest to hand select the varietals that we will use to make our beers for the following year. It’s a daunting, yet incredibly rewarding experience every time. Once we’re done we get to celebrate with another annual tradition, fresh hop beers! Traditionally with fresh hop beers, we will arrange in advance to select certain varietals and have them shipped overnight to our breweries where we use them the following day allowing us to extract the maximum flavor potential from the fresh hops. This year however, we had the opportunity to experiment with something totally new, frozen fresh hops.

As the hops are being harvested they are immediately flash frozen, packaged and held at super cool temperatures to preserve the most volatile aromatics. These hops are then shipped out via cold chain and maintained at below freezing temperatures until they reach our doors. This means that for us, being thousands of miles away, we are able to receive the hops in absolute prime condition, losing as little aroma and flavor as possible.

For our first fresh hop focus, we introduce to you a beautiful new project dubbed “Flash Freeze”. Our somewhat traditional, west coast IPA base gets loaded down with more than 13 LBS / BBL of fresh hops, this year including Mosaic and Citra, that go straight into our whirlpool kettle the day they arrive. The beer then undergoes a typical fermentation and dry hop with standard T90 hop pellets of the same varietals before being finished and packaged into cans. The result is an enormously pungent and wildly fruity ride on a hoppy rainbow road to pure bliss, but don't take our word for it.

Because we are who we are, we couldn’t stop with just one fresh hop concept, nor could we help but up the ante, which brings us to our second project, “Live Resin”. You may remember the inaugural release of Live Resin from 2020, where we used a single batch of fresh Strata hops, half in the whirlpool and the other half extracted on the same day into a monoterpene isolate called Fusion. The isolate was then added to the dry hop after fermentation making, to our knowledge, the world's first IPA made with a single lot of fresh hops from start to finish.

While we adored the result, there were a LOT of complications in the process and we may have nearly destroyed some equipment in the process. That didn’t stop us from putting our heads together and making a plan to absolutely nail it for 2021. For this year's version, we received the frozen Citra and Mosaic and transported them immediately to our partners at Oast House Oils, in Lafayette, for extraction into a monoterpene isolate. With the help of some new pre-extraction processes, a ton of elbow grease and a few cases of beer (for inspiration of course) the fresh hops were transformed into a quantity of terpene extract the likes of which has never been seen before. Once fermentation was completed and the beer cold conditioned, this massive quantity of terpene isolate was added to the beer as it transferred into the packaging tank. The resulting beer is unlike anything previously beheld, absolutely saturated with aromas and flavors that normally wouldn't even make it to our doorstep, much less survive the processes of fermentation and handling. This new method, of our invention (in partnership with Oast House Oils) captures more fresh hop character than previously thought possible and the result speaks for itself. Words won't do it justice, so you’ll just have to come in and grab a pint or a 4-pack to know for yourself.

Art for the Flash Freeze Label


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