Perhaps no brewery in the world is as dedicated to fresh-hopped beers as Single Hill in Yakima, Washington. Led by cofounder and head brewer Zach Turner, the Single Hill team leans into vibrantly hopped IPAs all year long—and their Mind Plant double IPA was first runner-up at last year’s Alpha King Challenge—but harvest time is when their strengths and expertise really get to shine. That’s when Turner shifts focus to fresh-hopped beers, driving to farms around the Yakima Valley to see which varieties are freshly picked, rushing the wet cones back to the brewery to pour into the mash tun-turned-hopback, and gathering freshly kilned (but not yet baled) whole-cone hops that they pelletize themselves for the whirlpool and dry hop. The running event throughout the season is the Fresh Hop Rodeo, when Single Hill collaborates with brewers across the country on a series of fresh-hopped beers that compete for the love of local customers.
Single Hill’s singular fresh-hop focus is succeeding: Their Energy Cone IPA was the gold medal–winning fresh-hop beer at last year’s Great American Beer Festival, and their fame and respect for these beers is growing beyond the region.
In this episode, Turner opens the book on his process and approach to fresh-hopped beers, including:
- flexibility and serendipity in pick windows and varieties
- pelletizing their own hops at the brewery
- utilizing lower temperatures for wet-hop contact, to limit vegetal flavors
- fermenting fresh-hop IPAs with a variety of yeasts
- brewing both hazy and West Coast fresh-hop iterations
- their experimenter system that splits a 15-barrel brew into three different fermentations
- new and exciting hop varieties on the horizon
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