Hopefully you have tasted at least one variety of fresh hop ale in the past few years. The trend has grown over time. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t though because I didn’t hear about this idea until I was in Denver in September. I happened to stop by Great Divide Brewing and saw that they had a fresh hop pale ale at around 6%. As usual I ordered a few tasters, one of the fresh hop pale, and one of the IPA. I was so impressed by the hop flavors I tasted that I didn’t order any IPAs that night but instead a few pints of the fresh hop pale. Thankfully Great Divide Brewing has some solid distribution so I found a bottle of the Fresh Hop Pale in San Diego recently. Today I decided to open it with Sierra Nevada’s Fresh Hop Harvest Ale to see how the two compared.
To put this into some perspective, consider that the average IPA is around 6.5-7.5%. The average pale ale is between 4.5 and 5.5%. So when you have a fresh hop pale ale at 6.1 (like the Great Divide) and 6.7 (like the Sierra Nevada) it is almost like having an IPA. Sadly, only the Great Divide had an enjoy by date on the bottle so I can’t know how fresh the Sierra Nevada was when I tried it. I think they were overly generous though with the Great Divide since I found it in late October and it says enjoy by mid December of 2013.
Taste wise, both beers have a nice fresh hop on the forefront although I would say the Sierra Nevada was a bit more heavy on the malts. Both would satisfy IPA fans and hop heads and are worth checking out.
Did you try any other fresh hop beers recently? I’m interested in your suggestions in the comments.