There's quite a bit going on in San Francisco this weekend. That is, unless you have a dislike for bluegrass music, displays of aerial acrobatics, and sailors in meticulously starched uniforms. If Hardly Strictly, Fleet Week, and America's Cup just aren't your style, perhaps an array of uniquely hopped beers is more up your alley?
Chances are, you've already sampled pale ales, IPAs, Double IPAs, and perhaps even Black IPAs. These hoppy beer styles are pretty ubiquitous these days, especially on the west coast. But, you aren't a true hophead until you've become acquainted with "wet hop" beers. Also known as "fresh hop" beers or "harvest ales," these brews only pop up right after the hop harvest season, and exist for a very short window.
Typically, hops are dried before use for the sake of stability and predictability in recipe formulation. Wet hop beers, on the other hand, make use of the just picked, still-wet hops. Because hops are prone to spoiling quickly in this state, the crop is typically shipped overnight to the brewer or thrown in the back of a truck and rushed straight to the brew kettle. These beers tend to display a unique quality of the hops -- one that downplays bitterness and puts the flavor and aroma of the hop varietal front and center. Oftentimes, the vegetal nature of the hop plant becomes evident.
Thankfully, the hops have been harvested and the fresh hop beers are ready to consume, with the biggest Bay Area gathering of such brews happening tomorrow. See below for some opportunities to try a slew of local, freshly hopped beers:
Drake's October First Friday
Where: Drake's Brewery and Barrel House, 1933 Davis St., San Leandro
When: Oct. 5th, 4-8 p.m.
Cost: $15 for a Drake's tasting glass and 3 full pours (additional tokens $3.50 each). Voluntary $5 donations for non-profit support welcome.
The rundown: This monthly celebration of all things Drake's is always worth attending. Expect a wide range of beers and food truck grub available for purchase. The brewery will debut Batch 4000, a wet-hopped version of their fantastic 1500 Pale Ale brewed with fresh Simcoe and Citra hops.
Bistro Wet Hop Beer Fest
Where: The Bistro, 1001 B. St., Hayward, (510) 886 8525 (short walk from Hayward BART)
When: Oct. 6th, 11 a.m.-close
Cost: Pay per drink, with beers available in full pours or sample size.
The rundown: If previous years are any indication, this will be the largest selection of wet-hopped beers in the Bay Area. Expect twenty-some odd fresh brews from the likes of Moonlight, Sierra, Moylan's, etc.
Toronado Wet Hop Festival
Where: Toronado, 547 Haight St. (at Fillmore), (415) 863 2276
When: Oct. 17th, 6 p.m.
Cost: Pay per drink
The rundown: The city's best selection of wet-hopped beers in one place, which happens to fall on pastrami night at Memphis Minnie's. Serendipity!