Harvest Fun with Fresh Hops

Last week a truck arrived at Victory Brewing Company packed full of delicious fresh hops. This delivery was special, because unlike our normal whole-flower hops, which are dried, these were fresh, only a few hours off the vines at Pederson Farm in Seneca Castle, New York. The flowers were plump and a vivid green. (Seeing these beauties made me wish I could go back to my wedding day and opt for a hop bouquet instead of hydrangeas.)

While I admired the exquisite flowers, the delicious aroma took over my senses. I’ve come to recognize the smell of hops for its intriguing, bitter quality. But, this fresh-hop aroma was another delectable scent. The sharp bite was replaced by a slight syrupy freshness.

Both hoppy fragrances make me equally thirsty, but the fresh scent made my mouth water with anticipation to sample the wet-hopped beers. After all, it’s a once-a-year flavor opportunity.

Check out how plump the fresh hop (back right) is in comparison to the dried hop (front left).

Brewing with freshly harvested hops is only possible during hop harvest, which happens just once per year. And the flavor-profile is one that can’t be compared to any other Victory beer. By using whole-flower hops in all of our beers, we are proud to offer a range of unique and flavorful brews. However, this time of year we get to break our own mold as the fresh hops have even more essential oils in tact. The result is a flavor that can’t be described. Only enjoyed.

In order to take advantage of the hops and the oils within, Victory brewers worked through the night and into the following day to brew our extra-special Harvest Ale and Harvest Pils. It’s a stressful process and a tricky science, but the end result is worth the demanding brew schedule.

The following video tells the story of Harvest Ale and Harvest Pils and gives you a glimpse of the sweltering wet-hopping process.

Both Harvest Ale and Harvest Pils are draft-only brands. To get a taste of these fresh-hopped brews, visit the Victory Brewpub. Harvest Ale will be available at the end of September and Harvest Pils will be ready for consumption the first week in October. Cheers!

- K.N.

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The Victory Brewing Story

The story of Victory Brewing Company starts on a school bus in 1973 when fifth-graders Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski stepped aboard, on their way to a new school. The two became fast friends and remained so, even as they grew up and went to college on opposite coasts. Just months out of college, Bill’s appreciation of good beer and access to his father’s home brewing equipment inspired him to explore the hobby. That same year (1985), Bill gave Ron a home brewing kit as a Christmas gift. With that, both Bill and Ron developed their love of the craft…
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