In the wake of his brewery being named Small Brewery of the Year, R.J. Whitlow, owner and head brewer at 5 Rights Brewing, got the call to serve his fresh hop creations at last year’s Fresh Hop Ale Festival, the most prestigious fresh hop beer festival in the country.
But it wasn’t the right time. Knee deep in the construction of what was to become a new location in Lake Stevens, Whitlow regretfully declined, sighting the fact he couldn’t produce the required four half barrels of each beer he’d need to provide.
This year, he made sure if he got the call he’d be ready. That call did come and Whitlow will travel to Yakima on Saturday morning with four different beers, three of them fresh hops, in tow.
“It’s an honor to be invited and a great opportunity for the brewery,” Whitlow said. “There will be a lot of people there who have never tried our beer. It’s a big deal for us.”
Still brewing on his two-barrel system in his garage, Whitlow has been churning out batch after batch of fresh hop ales and his Yaki-Vegas Saison over the past few weeks in preparation for the festival. He’s planning to take three fresh hop ales, including a Citra version of the brewery’s Embrace the Resin Wet Hop that he’ll be entering in the festival’s judging contest.
To brew the Citra fresh hop, Whitlow was aided by friend and hop connoisseur Jason Welle. Welle, who works in the pellet plant at Haas, a hop distributor in Yakima, and the Wandering Hop Brewery, drove more than 50 pounds of fresh-picked Citra hops from Yakima Chief/Perrault Farms to Marysville so Whitlow could make this beer.
In Yakima, 5 Rights also will be pouring the original Embrace the Resin, which is made with Mosaic and Amarillo hops to complement loads of fresh Citra hops, and Wobbly the Laborer, which is made with loads of fresh Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Columbus hops grown at Loyd Farms in Everett.
The 16th annual Fresh Hop Ale Fest is from 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 29 in downtown Yakima. Last year was the first time I attended the festival, and it was amazing. Some of the Northwest’s best IPA producers were on hand pouring a wide variety of fresh hop creations. If you can go, I highly recommend it.
If you can’t make it, here’s a look at other fresh hop beers going on tap locally:
Arlington’s Skookum Brewery is heading back to Yakima as the reigning Fresh Hop IPA champs. The brewery’s Wet Side Connection, a fresh hop IPA made with copious amounts of fresh Citra hops and soft oats, has been entered again and is looking for back-to-back titles. It’s currently on tap at the brewery. Skookum is planning to release its Rising Bines Mosaic fresh hop next week.
Four Snohomish breweries collaborated on a fresh hop pale ale that will be on tap at all locations starting today. Spada Farmhouse Brewery, Scrappy Punk Brewing, Lost Canoe Brewing and Haywire Brewing brewed its Centennial Pale Ale with 10 pounds of Centennial fresh hops grown on the Spada Farm.
Sound to Summit head brewer Adam Frantz picked up 50 pounds of fresh Ekuanot hops the morning of the harvest in Yakima to make his Bine to Brew IPA. It will be on tap at the Snohomish brewery next week.
Bothell’s Decibel Brewing brewed five fresh hop beers this fall, including SnoCo Fresh Hop, a Belgian-style pale ale brewed with fresh Hallertau, Nugget and Mount Hood hops grown in Snohomish County. There also will be In Bloom, a pale ale made with fresh Cashmere hops; Thunderstruck, a pale ale made with fresh Zeus hops; a fresh hop version of the brewery’s Pocketful of Gold IPA; and Fresh Hop Limiter, its blonde ale made with fresh Mount Hood hops. The beers will be on tap at the brewery starting today and at the upcoming Bothell Beer Fest and Carleton Farms Beer Fest.
Crucible Brewing’s Feeling Ekuanaughty was made with fresh Ekuanot hops, giving it strong flavors of citrus, fruit and herbs. It will be going on tap at both Crucible locations on Oct. 4.
The Independent’s Fresh Hop Invitational: Everett’s The Independent Beer Bar is hosting its annual Fresh Hop Invitational at 4 p.m. Oct. 11 at the bar, 1801 Hewitt Ave., Everett. There will be more than 15 breweries pouring fresh hop ales, including Lazy Boy Brewing, 5 Rights Brewing and Skookum Brewery.
Freshies to the Face Festival: Bothell’s The Hop and Hound is hosting its annual Freshies to the Face fresh hop beer festival on Oct. 13 at the bottleshop, 18116 101st Ave., NE, Bothell.
Foggy Noggin’s Fresh Hop Festival: Bothell’s Foggy Noggin Brewing is hosting its own Fresh Hop Festival Oct. 19 and 20 at the brewery, 22329 53rd Ave. SE, Bothell. Foggy Noggin will be serving three fresh hop beers, including one made with hops grown on the brewery’s property.
Embrace the Resin Citra Wet Hop DIPA
5 Rights Brewing, Marysville
Style: Fresh hop double IPA
Stats: 8.5 percent ABV, 78 IBU
Available: On tap at this year’s Fresh Hop Ale Festival. Also on tap at The Hop and Hound, Elliott Bay Pizza, Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse, The Independent Beer Bar and Toggle’s Bottleshop.