Hop to It

Celebrate the harvest with these limited-edition beers

In the early fall, brewers pause from their regular harvest duties to drive truckloads of fresh hops home and craft once-a-year beers know as "hop nouveaus."

Although hops are used to make most styles of beer, the cone-shaped flowers are usually kiln-dried, stripped of their essential oils and packed away for later use, which causes their woodsy, grassy and citrusy notes to diminish before brewers add them to the mix.

Fresh-hopped beer, on the other hand, is brewed with hops added to the kettle within hours of harvesting, thus amping up their character significantly.

Most hop nouveaus are sold regionally, but a few–including Sierra Nevada's Harvest Ale–are available across the country. Here are four of our other favorites:

Fresh Hop Pale Ale Denver's Great Divide Brewing Company takes advantage of overnight shipping to send "wet" hops from the Pacific Northwest for their brewers to incorporate into this brew to create a grassy, medium-bodied ale that pairs nicely with bratwurst (greatdivide.com).

High Tide Fresh Hop IPA Named for San Diego's high-tide season, Port Brewing Company's crisp pale ale gets its spicy, citrusy aromas and grassy finish from just-picked Centennial and Simcoe hops (portbrewing.com).

Hop Trip Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery's fresh-hopped beer uses six pounds of the stuff per barrel (six times the amount that's in their regular pale ale) to produce this bright, citrus-scented ale (deschutesbrewery.com).

Hop Wallop Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing Company celebrates the harvest season with a heady golden ale that has a bracing bitterness and piney finish (victorybeer.com).