Each year between late August and early October the hop fields of the Pacific Northwest—centered around the Yakima Valley in Oregon—become ground zero for the American hop harvest. As the towering hop bines are cut down (some reaching heights of up to 30 feet), a resinous, powdery debris know as lupulin scatters the air, perfuming it with a lemony garden aroma.
While most of these hops are dried and processed into tiny pellets, a small percentage will be used right away, to make brews known as fresh- or wet-hop beers. (“Wet-hopping” generally refers to hops harvested and brewed within 24 hours, while “fresh-hopping” can mean hops up to a week old.) Because the hops used in these beers still have some of their essential oils that get lost in the drying process, they deliver a range of aromas and flavors that you can’t get from a regular IPA.
The harvest provides a tight window in which to enjoy these extraordinary beers—here are 10 of our favorites to try this season.