Now, I have to tell you all. I am a purist when it comes to herbs and spices. I think they should always be fresh. Dried herbs and spices are sometimes the only thing possible, or at least practical, in foodstuffs. But I at least have found, there is no substitute.
Enter beers. What brands of beers use fresh hops? I mean, are there any of the main brands that do this? Of course I am wondering about the more expensive beers too. I really need this information. Not immediately. But as soon as possible.
I do live in Detroit. And I can assure you, metro Detroit has an excellent selection of beers. Even the smallest liquor store. So I should have no problems finding it. Plus, I am guessing I am not the first person to wonder this.
Around here there are tons. Just look for “fresh hop ale” in the late summer/fall.
Local hop growing is having a resurgence with the local grain to glass movement. No longer do microbreweries need to depend on Yakistan for their hops (Yakima valley, which is might redneck). Wisconsin and other parts are resurging on the hop growing.
That said, fresh hops taste like, well, fresh hops. In other words, grassy.
I’m a homebrewer, and I have grown Northern Brewer, East Seatte Goldings, Tettnanger and Willamette hops for the past 5 years and then made fresh hop ale. What I’ve zeroed in on is
I make an ale and use a minimal amount of commercial bittering hops to make a base. For example, Northern Brewer.
Then I dump in all of my fresh harvest of one type. This is at least a pound and sometimes two pounds of hops. For example, #1 was Norther Brewer, then I dump in all my fresh northern brewer
The fresh hops are added with 5 minutes left to boil, and then when I turn off the heat
Making 3-4 batches of 5 gallons of fresh hop ale is more than enough. It’s a fun seasonal thing to do. Drink and have no desire for additional fresh hop ales until the next year. Kinda like I won’t pass up a slice of fruit cake around the holidays, but that slice completely satiates me for the other 364 days of the year.
It really depends on the herb and application and what flavors you’re going for. Fresh (as in “green”) does not automatically mean “better.” Some herbs are terrible dried. Some are IMHO preferable dried.
That’s probably the biggest problem. For hundreds of years hops have typically been dried before storage and use. This gets rid of the grassy “fresh” flavors and lets the aromas that the hops are known for dominate. Plus it lets them be stored and transported much more easily.
Yeah, only a few herbs are actually better fresh, and even then only in certain applications. For example, dried basil loses most of its punch. Same with cilantro. Mint isn’t as good in a lot of things when it’s dried. But for some, it’s fine- mint tea is often made from dried mint and is just fine that way. Oregano can be even better; when dried it doesn’t have those green flavors which are typically out of place in most oregano uses.
Oregano was the herb I was primarily thinking of. Marjoram can be the same way. Sage can go either way as to whether I want the more – is resinous the word I’m looking for – taste of fresh sage. Rosemary goes either way, though I tend to prefer fresh. Thyme can go either way. Basically, all those “woody” type herbs as opposed to “herb fines” type herbs (parsely, chervil, chives, tarragon – though dried tarragon isn’t terrible in some applications.) If I’m cooking the herbs for a long time, dried herbs are usually preferred. Fresh herbs for finishing. General guideline, not a rule. Like a bouquet garni of fresh herbs for long stewing or stocks is fine.
Beer I prefer dried hops for all, though as finishing hops, fresh hops can be a nice change of pace.
BTW it just occurred to me. Liquor store might be a regional term, because they basically carry everything.
For the record, in metro Detroit, a store can carry a hundred beers, and five hundred wines. But if it carries even one bottle of whiskey, it is a liquor store. If it carries all the aforementioned, but no liquor, it is a party store. (Don’t ask me to explain it .)
The pointers are not terrible. I second that I use a commercial dried version of the hops as the “bittering” agent. Then drop in as many fresh hops as I have at 5 minutes and 0 minutes to impart the fresh hop flavor.
It really depends on my hops. Since the hops are in my front yard, I can pick about half that ripened up early, and then about two weeks later pick the second half. Some of my plants I just pick’em all at once. Let the hop plant tell you what to do and when.
Since it’s a novelty beer, if I have 2# of fresh hops, I dump in 2# to the brew.
I’m a seasonal brewer. Always do a labor day fresh hop ale. Then the rest of my plants as they ripen. Winter I do a few lagers that sit in the garage, and if I’m feeling especially genki will make a sake, when it gots hot for the 3 weeks of the year in Seattle, then I do a Kviek. Late spring (say june in Seattle), I make a couple of 2% or 2.5% beers as summer quaffers. And a bunch of different things in between.