Sierra Nevada Harvest: Wet Hop IPA – Northern Hemisphere

Sierra Nevada Harvest: Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop IPA

Brewed by: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Beer Classification and Specs

  • Style: IPA
  • Variation: American, Wet Hop
  • Limited: Sept. – Nov.
  • ABV: 6.7%
  • IBU: 67

Notes: Fourth of five in 2014 “Harvest Series.”

Brewer’s Notes and Ingredients

Northern Hemisphere was the first wet hop ale and it inspired the wet hop craze here in America. Wet—undried—hops go straight from the fields into our kettles within 24 hours. Because hops are incredibly perishable, using hops wet preserves all of the precious oils and resins for a unique drinking experience as evidenced by the intense herbal green flavors and citrus-like and floral aromas.

Hops: Wet Cascade and Centennial

Malts: Two-row Pale, Caramel

Additional: Ale yeast

More Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop IPA Images

First Impressions

Artwork: Follows the new Sierra Nevada Harvest Series label template, with maroon background.

Color: Rusty tone. Slightly opaque, but effervescence still visible.

Aroma: Sweet grain and bread, with grassy overtones.

The Tasting

Arrived in: 24 oz. Bottle

Served in: Official Sierra Nevada IPA glasses

Before Sierra Nevada expanded their Harvest Series for 2014, Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop IPA was one of its founding members, along with Southern Hemisphere Fresh Hop IPA. They have been brewing this wet hop ale for years, and its always been one of our most anticipated fall IPA releases.

As with any “harvest / fresh / wet” hop ale, the premise is newly picked hops (wet and un-dried) are rushed from the fields to the brewery as quickly as possible. Assuming the hops were grown in Yakima, WA, that’s at least a 9 hour drive each way. So getting the batch of beer brewing within 24 hours time was no small feat.

It’s also worth noting, what Sierra Nevada considers a wet hop, most other breweries call a fresh hop. Sierra is also pretty adamant about the distinction between the two terms as well:

Over recent years, there has been some confusion about the difference between fresh and wet hops. While it may seem like semantics, to us it’s an important distinction.

Wet Hops are un-dried hops, picked and shipped from the growing fields within 24 hours.

Fresh Hops are the freshest dried hops to come from the fields, typically within seven days of harvest.

So there you have it…

And semantics aside, hops don’t get much fresher than one day old, as reflected in the finished Wet Hop ale product. We wish there was a way to guarantee the freshness of Southern Hemisphere from the spring, to taste the two side by side at their best — Wet vs Fresh hop.

Sierra Nevada Harvest: Wet Hop IPA Northern Hemisphere poured a majestic, soft, pillowy foam cap, fueled by its extreme carbonation erupting through the ale. We have discussed the retention of all these Harvest beers enough this series, but do take a look at the second pour in the last picture above for an example. Mike did try to foam it a bit, but still…

As the topper began to deflate, lacing crusted onto the sides of the glass. Soon after, the head inside resembled an ice cream float, when the ice cream clump has almost melted away.

Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop IPA was a more subdued IPA, not as hop forward as say, their next release – Celebration Ale. It featured a substantial malt presence, which mellowed the ale, and showcased its herbal qualities.

Wet Hop’s maltiness resulted in a medium consistency, suitable to this fall offering. Its smooth mouthfeel made it easily drinkable, yet just crisp enough, like fall leaves.

Up front, Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop IPA featured damp, earthy notes of herbs and grass, where its hop freshness shined through. Towards the finish, the ale tasted bready, like a hop flavored pretzel, with ample bitterness. Wet Hop left a dash of pepper behind, for a zesty finish.

Now we’re looking forward to the final installment of the Harvest series, NeoMexicanus. Let’s see how far this new wild hop can climb up the charts. Here’s the current power rankings:

  1. Sierra Nevada Harvest: Wet Hop IPA – Northern Hemisphere
  2. Single Hop IPA – Equinox Hops
  3. Fresh Hop IPA – Southern Hemisphere Harvest
  4. Harvest Single Hop IPA – Yakima 291
Final Score: 4/5

4 Stars

Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop IPA was a hearty, and extremely fresh India Pale Ale. Perhaps drinking it for years has made us less objective, but we feel Wet Hop is one of the better fall seasonal IPAs on the market. It captured the season in a bottle.

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