Fresh to Death: Victoria’s Harvest Celebration of Fresh Hop Beers
Saturday, October 6, 2pm to 6pm
The Roundhouse at Bayview Place, 253 Esquimalt Rd
At the end of August each summer, many BC brewers leave their brew kettles and fermentation tanks behind to go on a field trip.
They travel to hop farms all around the province to collect fresh hops that are still wet and juicy from the harvest. Then they race back to their breweries to brew a batch of beer with those hops. These special fresh hop (or wet hop) beers come out a few weeks later and are only available for a short time at the beginning of autumn.
Usually, hops are immediately dried and pelletized after harvest so that they can be stored for several months or longer. Otherwise, they would spoil very quickly because of their high moisture content. When used in brewing while still “wet,” they can showcase a unique “green” or grassy flavour that you just don’t get otherwise.
It all started 10 years ago at Driftwood…
In September 2009, Victoria’s Driftwood Brewery brewed its first batch of Sartori Harvest IPA using fresh hops from the Sartori Hop Farm in Chilliwack. No other brewery in British Columbia had brewed a fresh hop IPA before and was a huge hit with craft beer lovers. This was also Driftwood’s first IPA — that’s right, they hadn’t even brewed Fat Tug yet! Every year since then, Driftwood has returned to the Sartori farm for wet hops and the unique beer has only grown in popularity since then.
This year marks the 10th edition of Driftwood’s Sartori Harvest IPA. Over that time, many other BC breweries have been inspired to brew their own fresh hop beers — enough that by 2015, we at Victoria Beer Week decided to build a festival around the style. We launched the event on Thanksgiving Weekend that October, staged at the shared parking lot between Driftwood and Hoyne Brewing in Rock Bay. Despite some nasty weather (we endured the remnants of a hurricane from Hawaii that afternoon) it was a big success. We produced Fresh to Death the following year at Centennial Square with even more fresh hops beers.
After taking a hiatus last year, Fresh to Death is back again this fall — this time around we’re holding it indoors at the Roundhouse at Bayview Place, a beautiful venue where we previously held the first edition of All About the Wood in March 2017.
It’s not just about IPAs
While the original fresh hop beers were generally all IPAs, more and more brewers have experimented with fresh hops in other styles over the years, including pale ales, saisons, lagers, and even sour beers. This year the line-up at Fresh to Death reflects a diverse assortment of beer styles. In addition to Driftwood’s Sartori Harvest IPA, which is still the centrepiece of the style, Category 12 Brewing is bringing a Fresh-Hopped Wild Pale Ale and Dageraad Brewing will pour its delicious Wet Hopped Blonde. Howl Brewing, just a few months old, will pour two beers: Silver Rill Fresh Hopped Black Currant Saison and August End Fresh Hopped IPA. Two breweries are bringing fresh hop sour beers, and we’ll even be pouring wet hop cider and kombucha. (We’re still finalizing the list, but we will post it before the end of September.)
Unique VIP Tasting Experience
This year we are also offering a special VIP Ticket, which includes early access to the event as well as an exclusive guided tasting of a selection of 4 fresh hop beers led by Jeff Kendrew, Certified Cicerone. Jeff will pick four beers that showcase different flavour profiles, and discuss what makes them special and unique. This VIP event starts at 1:00 pm with general admission beginning at 2:00pm.
Attendees at Fresh to Death will also be able to purchase some of the fresh hop beers at a pop-up liquor store provided by Spinnakers Spirit Merchants.
White Sails’ brewer Tyler Papp gets “fresh.”
Whether you’re a longtime lover of fresh hop beers or you’re not sure you’ve ever even tried one, Fresh to Death is the event for you. See you on October 6.
Big thanks to our sponsors: Bayview Place and Metropol Printing for supporting this event.