Fort George Brewery Looks to Perfect Wet Hop Beer Making, Marketing

Tis the season for hop harvests. That means a slew of wet hop beers are on the way and breweries are scurrying to create and market the beer all at the same time.

For Astoria, Oregon’s Fort George Brewery the release date of its “Fresh” IPA is September 15. It’s a date that can’t be decided on until the harvest actually begins, says media coordinator Brad Blaser.

“We have a good idea when the beer will be ready, but we can’t promise a release date until we get that harvest date,” he said.

The one positive is that Blaser and the brewing team know it will be a limited release, so pre-selling the beer to territories in Oregon, Washington and Idaho isn’t a problem.

“We’ve given all of our distributors a reliable estimate of how many cases and kegs they are going to receive,” Blaser said. “We make sure to deliver the beer to [a distributor’s] warehouses as soon as possible — usually within 24 hours of packaging. And our distributing partners help get that beer out immediately.”


Logistically it takes the entire brewery to make Fresh. Tanks need to be empty and waiting. All the brewers are on standby, ready for around-the-clock brew cycles. After a quick round-trip from Astoria to Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn, Oregon and back, the block oozes with the aroma of over a ton of wet Amarillo hops. Brewing non-stop until the tanks are filled, no hop is spared and no moment is wasted.

“Every other beer uses ingredients that we already have on hand,” said brewery manager Michal Frankowicz. “With fresh hops, we basically wait for a call from the hop company. We are given a general timeline on when the hops will be ready, but mother nature controls the harvest date. Then it is a scramble to pick up the hops and bring them to our brewery as soon as possible.”

Frankowicz said the best tip he has is to get a hop back for a fresh hop run, or turn your mash tun into one.

“Previously, we would free float our fresh hops in the tanks, which is a nightmare to clean out,” he said. Timing also is very key.

“Use those hops as soon as possible,” he said. “We are fortunate enough to live within three hours of some of the best hops grown in the world. They are pungent and perfectly green when they are used.”

‘Drink fresh, do not age, and buy it quickly’ stated the release sent to Brewer late last week. It’s a message that Fort George hopes is passed on. On the consumer side, most craft beer aficionados know to drink fresh hopped beers quickly, Blaser pointed out.

“When they see the packaging date on the bottom of the can at only one or two days old, they get really excited,” he said. “Hopefully the “Fresh” name gives them a hint as well.”

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