There are countless things to be excited about when autumn returns. Football, cooler weather, pumpkin spiced everything (OK, maybe not that), and the return of fresh or wet hopped beers.
One of those wet hop beers is WET from Surly Brewing in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, Surly’s beers aren’t available here in Louisiana, but that didn’t stop me from acquiring some a couple weeks ago. Wet hop beers are unlike most beers, in that the hops used have never been dried and kilned, so you get an unbelievably fresh hop aroma and flavor. It takes quite a bit of coordination to pull off a wet hop brew, as the hops have to be used as soon as possible after harvesting, before they start to lose their fresh qualities. Surly says this about WET:
We took a break from brewing our Wet Hopped West Coast Style IPA in 2014 while we moved into our new brewery so for 2015 we came back with a bang. Our 2015 edition features 6,000 lbs of Simcoe hops harvested from the Yakima region of Washington. We went all out in 2015 and brewed 600 barrels, TEN TIMES as much WET as we first brewed when we started wet hopping back in 2009. And, for the first time ever, WET distribution will reach our neighbors in Wisconsin, Iowa and Chicago in both draft and 16oz cans.
Our 2015 WET hops were picked in the Pacific Northwest on a Sunday, packed into vented and stackable bins, loaded into a refrigerated trailer and arrived at our loading dock the following Tuesday ready to impart their aromatic oils into the beer in a way dried or processed hop pellets can’t.
Brewing WET takes a massive amount of teamwork and coordination. Beginning at 6am, WET dominated the production schedule, requiring 10 people to orchestrate the brewing cycle around the clock for four days. 2015 also marked the first year the brewers were able to utilize a rotary forklift to dump the hop back, increasing both productivity and efficiency when handling such a massive volume of hops.
Brewing WET is a labor of love so we are pumped to re-release one of our favorite seasonal beers.
WET looks like an IPA should. It’s a bright golden color. There’s no amber or copper notes to this one, meaning Surly wants the hops to shine, not to be “balanced,” err…hidden by caramel malts. The aroma is vegetal with notes of fresh cut grass and peaches. The aroma isn’t quite as strong as I’d hoped, but the flavor is wonderful. It highlights just how fresh hops differ from ones that are kilned, dried and frozen for later use. It tastes just like you picked the hops right off the bine and licked your fingers. The mouthfeel is light and this is an easy to drink beer.
Drinking Surly WET makes me wonder which Louisiana brewery will be the first to brew a wet hopped beer. Hopefully one or more of them can figure out the logistics to brew one in 2016, because it certainly makes the effort worth the payoff.