Very few things say fall like the annual hop harvest. This time of year, breweries around the country are releasing their wet hopped, hop harvest ales and Founders is no exception. Don’t worry too much about the terminology, all that wet hopped means is that they tossed freshly picked hops into the boil rather than dried whole hops, or hop pellets. Theoretically, the drying process causes some of the hop oils to be lost, so tossing freshly picked hops in will provide a fuller flavor and aroma.
Founders Brewing releases a lot of amazing beer, and when I found a 4-pack of their Harvest Ale in stock at my local liquor store I bought it on impulse. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have claimed to be big IPA guy, but breweries like Founders, are turning me into a believer by producing excellent IPAs. Sure, the ever increasing variety of hops play no small part in the increasing variety of IPAs on the market, but even the best hops can make unbelievably awful beers, as I have frequently discovered as a beer judge. A truly excellent brewer can take the flavors and aromas inherent in a hop variety and create something amazing by utilizing the right malts, and fermenting at the right temperature with the right yeast. Founders brews some amazing beers, and I had a strong feeling that their Harvest IPA would not disappoint. With that in mind, on to the review.
At Beeradvocate, Founders Harvest Ale currently has a score of 95, with a 96 from the Bros. At ratebeer, it has a score of 99 overall and a 100 for style.
Founders Harvest Ale pours a slightly hazy pale fold with a thick creamy white head that holds excellent retention and leaves considerable lacing behind in the glass. The aroma is moderately complex and showcases the hops with grapefruit and mango on the front end, followed by a hint of orange, with biscuit malts and subtle pine notes in the finish. As it warms, the grapefruit and orange become more prominent.
The flavor is similar to the aroma, with biscuit notes on the front end with prominent grapefruit and mango hops, fading into orange and pine on the back end. Harvest Ale is moderately malty with moderately high hop bitterness, and a clean, dry finish with lingering hop flavor. It is medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation. I know that was a lot of “moderates” and “mediums,” but this beer hit every attribute dead on.
Personally, I love wet hopped beers, when they are done correctly. I went into this beer hoping it would be good, but fearing that it would have grassy notes from the sheer volume of plant material from the hops. Fortunately there was no discernible grassy aroma, or flavor. In their Harvest Ale, Founders has produced an excellent IPA! This is definitely a beer that will go into my yearly rotation. If you are looking for a great IPA that will leave you satisfied, I highly recommend it. Fresh hopped beers are not for everyone, but if you haven’t had on yet, this is one of the best I have had!
That’s all for tonight, check back later this week for another post. I am shooting to get the next review up by Friday at the latest. For more Founders reviews, check out the "Founders" label at the bottom of this post. Cheers!