Several months ago, I shared a story about a new hop product from Yakima Cheif Hops (YCH). Basically, fresh-frozen hops. At that time, it was an experimental product released to a very small handful of breweries. Some people raised an eyebrow and wondered how fresh could mean anything other than fresh, suggesting that fresh hop beer was an absolute truth that should not be messed with.
Apparently, the responses were positive from the breweries involved and today we learned that YCH is moving forward beyond the experimental phase and offering its “Frozen Fresh” hop program to its global customer base.
Fresh Still Means Fresh
Normally, fresh hop beer is produced with hops that are still fresh off the bine. Whether you draw that line at 24 or 36 hours, fresh hop beer involves the use of hops that have been picked but not processed. Not dried. Not pelletized. Still wet. Fresh. The introduction of this new product/program does not change that. Fresh still means fresh.
Since the vast majority of the USA’s hop crop comes from the Yakima Valley, brewers in the Pacific Northwest enjoy an advantage when it comes to this kind of beer. For breweries in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho driving to the hop fields to load a van or box truck with freshly picked hops is something of a ritual. YCH hopes that its Frozen Fresh Hops will give more craft breweries the opportunity to brew fresh hop beers.
“As a Northwest brewer, fresh hops have a special place in my heart,” said YCH’s Brewery Manager, Jeremy Wattenberg. (YCH operates its own experimental brewery.) “Frozen Fresh hops will be a game-changer in the way we look at fresh-hopped beers.”
“With the growing popularity of fresh hop ales, the need to create a more flexible and sustainable product increased,” YHC said in the announcement. “…YCH developed a way to offer Frozen Fresh Hops in partnership with Wyckoff Farms, [which is] skilled in the art of producing and preserving quality, frozen agricultural products.”
What Spawned This Idea?
Frozen Fresh Hops were inspired by Wyckoff Farms’ fresh frozen blueberries, which are exported around the globe.
Frozen Fresh Hops are raw, un-kilned, flash-frozen whole cone hops produced in a state-of-the-art BRC-certified food processing facility. Unlike traditional freezing, flash freezing retains the delicate nuances of un-kilned hops by protecting lupulin gland integrity, preserving fresh hops from both a physical and aromatic perspective. “The result is a product that delivers the magic of fresh hop season with better storability and logistical flexibility,” said today’s announcement.
Frozen Fresh Hops have sub-freezing shipping and storage requirements. The introduction of this program does not impact breweries that still want to drive to the hop fields and get freshly picked hops.
Interested? Learn more here: www.yakimachief.com/commercial/hop-wire/frozen-fresh-hops.