For this edition of Tasting Notes, the wacky alchemists at Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California) magically transport us back to wet hop season with a pour of their Born Again Yesterday Unfiltered Ale.
Wet hop season typically starts in late August and lasts for about a month or so each year. During this time, many brewers usually take this opportunity to make a special beer with fresh hops that are picked and in the brew kettle within a 24-hour window. They get one shot at this a year and then – because hops are easily susceptible to mold and spoilage – the rest of the harvest is quickly dried for year-round use. Even though the folks that process hops are masters of this delicate craft, many brewers are left feeling that “something is always lost in translation.”
Very fond of that je ne sais quoi that wet hops possess, the brewers at Lagunitas decided that they were going to find a way to take the wet hop experience year-round. To do this, they took the book that taught them everything that they already knew about hops, threw it out the window, and went all trial and error to devise a new process for hop preservation. After “5 or 6” botched attempts, they finally discovered “a relatively simple process” that just forced them to “[think] about hops and freshness in new ways.” Now armed with this proprietary, “homegrown process of time dilation for the delicate hop cone that the flower doesn’t even perceive”, Lagunitas can now offer Born Again Yesterday Unfiltered Ale (7% ABV) as a true wet hop experience six months removed from harvest season.
Born Again Yesterday Unfiltered Ale is available now for a limited time in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft. You can expect to find this Limited Release at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s vast distribution area.
Alright . . . now that we are all caught up on that lengthy backstory, let’s get into these Tasting Notes to see exactly what a preserved wet hop beer can offer to a self-proclaimed hophead.
Tasting Notes for Born Again Yesterday Unfiltered Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company
Appearance: Born Again Yesterday pours up as a deep golden colored brew that is wearing a perfect finger of pure white foam. When exposed to direct light, the color shifts a bit to take on some vibrant orange tones. The beer has a light haze/cloudiness to it, but an abundant carbonation presence can still be seen kicking around a serious amount of floaties suspended in the liquid. Head retention is good, falling oh so slowly to a lasting and incredibly creamy top cap that leaves wide sheets of lace behind after each sip.
Aroma: Big on the citrus, the aromatics lead with pronounced notes of sweet orange and mandarin. Lime and grapefruit zest then move in to brighten the lightly sweet malts running parallel. The profile closes beautifully with that signature earthy grassiness that is so often found in wet hop beers. These aromas may seem simple, but they are enormous.
Taste: Citrus leads here as well, but this time around it serves as more of a role player. Orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit offer a bright initial pop before the hops take a dynamic turn toward more earthy and grassy qualities. The profile then takes on a lightly herbaceous and piney quality that eventually fades out to leave behind a finish filled with clean, non-obtrusive malt character.
Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a medium carbonation level, this beer has a good weight to it and fully coats the palate with each sip. The hops do bring some bite, but the balance is dialed in so that the bitterness is not all-consuming. Despite its palate engulfing nature, the beer still finds a way to dry out quickly and clean up nicely. The 7% ABV is well-behaved, but it does draw some attention to itself as the beer warms. The aftertaste is all clean malt with a dash of grapefruit zest.
Final Thoughts: Whatever the process is that Lagunitas devised to preserve wet hops, it works. When I approach wet hop beers, I tend to look for two things:
- Big ol’ gains in the department of hop aroma
- A very distinguishable grassy and “green” flavor
Born Again Yesterday Unfiltered Ale easily checks both those boxes, and then goes on to turn it up a notch by having a bigger hop flavor than most wet hop beers. Just as you would expect from a hop-forward beer from Lagunitas, the citrus hop notes are absolutely massive and work beautifully with that wet hop grassy character to supply the drinker with a memorable and dank Pale Ale. Wet hops at the end of spring? Yeah, you best believe that they live on in Born Again Yesterday Unfiltered Ale. If you are a lover of hops, be sure to get your hands on this tasty beverage before its Limited Release runs its course. Prost!