While fall means pumpkin beers for some people, IPA lovers know that the true star of autumnal drinking is fresh-hopped ales. Most hops used in beer-making are dried and turned into pellets, but the fall harvest allows brewers to pluck whole cones straight from the vine and deploy them while they’re still packed with residual oils and resins that impart intense aroma and flavor.
There are plenty of fresh-hop beers to get excited about, like Founders Harvest Ale and Two Brothers Heavy-Handed IPA. But according to Breakside Brewing’s Ben Edmunds—one of Portland’s most celebrated bitter-brew masters—using fresh-off-the-vine hops also poses some problems:
He and his team have been figuring out ways to break the hops open and get at the “lupulin glands where the acids and resins and oils.” They ultimately decided that freezing the flowers with liquid nitrogen then shattering them would be the most effective method.
As far as we know, this is the first nitrogen-blasted fresh-hopped beer. No word yet on how the results taste, but you can watch an awesome video breaking down the process above.