Let’s jump right into the good news: while it wasn’t a great hop growing and harvesting season over the last 6 weeks or so, the District itself has produced a wet hopped beer for the first time since 2018. Step right up, Right Proper, with Sunbeam WHIP, Wet Hopped Italian Pilsner!
An Italian-style Pilsner is made much like a German-style one, albeit with a dry-hop addition of continental hops. As it so happens, Right Proper Director of Brewing Operations Barrett Lauer has been growing Sunbeam hops, a progeny of Saaz, in his backyard for over 20 years now, and this year’s harvest was enough for this beer. “I’ve had pretty good luck with growing hops in MD except one year some squirrels decided they really liked the immature cones. I have a drip system that keeps them hydrated during the hot and dry spells,” notes Lauer. “The hops were picked late Sunday afternoon and used to dry hop Monday morning. We used Hallertauer Hersbrucker in the boil.”
Savvy readers may have had these hops before, in casks of the District Chophouse-DC Beer collaboration Decades Dunkel, brewed to celebrate 10 years of this site. Look for tallboy 4-packs of Sunbeam WHIP at the Shaw brewpub by Friday, and the Brookland and Dupont farmer’s markets this weekend.
Over in Virginia, Caboose Brewing’s Community Hops program is still going strong. Every spring Caboose sells immature hop plants and a future 4-pack of the Community Hops beer for $25 to… you, the surrounding community. You grow the hops, harvest them, and deliver them to the brewery, and a few weeks later, the beer is yours. The community’s cones are supplemented with Flemings Hop Farm in Chesapeake, and Wild Hog’s Farm in Madison, while Murphy & Rude Malting in Charlottesville provides the grain. Want to get in on this project in 2022: head over to Caboose’s site. The beer itself is 5.5% alcohol by volume and will be available soon at both Caboose locations, draft and cans, and may see limited distribution.
Though not brewed locally, the hoppy offshoot of The Bruery, Offshoot, has two wet hopped beers available at their Union Market store. Amarillo By Morning features that hop in a 6.5% ABV West Coast IPA, and then amps it up in Strata Sphere, a double IPA (8.5%) using the namesake hop. Both varieties come from Crosby Hop Farms in Oregon, and they’re available for pick up or delivery now.
Fresh hop beers can taste a little more vegetal than those made with dried, and/or pelletized, hops, but if you want to taste another presentation of locally grown hops, Flying Dog has you covered with Field Notes. In partnership with the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, hops are grown at UMD’s Western Maryland Research and Education Center in Keedysville, MD. Then “[t]he University harvests, dries, and pelletizes the hops for us, much like any of our other suppliers. From there, the hops head over to our quality assurance lab and we select the best varietals for brew day,” writes James Maravetz, Vice President of Marketing at the brewery. Available in cans, in Maryland.
A few West Coast breweries wet hop offerings will be available in our area, too. Sierra Nevada’s Northern Hemisphere IPA exclusively features Centennial hops, picked and rushed to brew kettles the same day. Look for “vibrant notes of citrus blossom, rose, and pine.” 6.7% ABV, 12 ounce bottles. We may also see Rogue’s Coast Haste again. A hazy double IPA with Strata hops grown on Rogue’s own farms, with notes of orange, strawberry, mango, and passionfruit. It was one one of my favorite beers of last year. Tallboy 4-packs, 9% ABV.