25 Sep Saint Arnold Fresh Hop Elissa IPA
Saint Arnold Fresh Hop Elissa IPA
Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Houston, North of Downtown
Fresh Hop IPA
Packaging: Draft only
Complex, layered, subtle, unique, these are all synonyms for I don’t know quite how to describe this beer, so indulge me for a minute because Fresh Hop Elissa IPA is all of the above.
It’s September now, and that means it’s harvest time. The nice folks over Saint Arnold were fortunate enough to get their hands on some locally grown Cascade hops for this Fresh Hop Elissa IPA. They were even more fortunate to be able to help in the harvesting at Polk Sharp Farm, where they grow Cascade, Centennial, and Zeus hops. These Cascade hops spent only three hours off the vine before they made their way into what would become this beer!
You can actually get a little glimpse of how the fresh hops kinda fell in their lap.
There’s no artwork to speak of specifically for Fresh Hop Elissa IPA, but Elissa’s typical artwork features the Patron Saint atop a maroon wooden texture (the side of a ship). In the background of the ever-present circle is a ship on the horizon, but Texas is glowing white as the moon this time instead of the usual yellow sun-Texas. There’s also an armless figurehead to the right of the Saint (the wooden carving on the front of a ship).
Fresh Hop Elissa IPA pours a deep golden color that’s not quite as cloudy as these haze craze IPAs, but much darker color. There’s zero sea foam on this ship (head) and very little lacing to speak of, but a neat ring of tiny white bubbles sticks around for the entire experience, anchoring the appearance together.
Here’s where the complexity begins. It smells subtle, but of so many different things. There are grassy and fruity notes that steer the ship, but they share the boat with a mild spicy note as well.
Saint Arnold Fresh Hop Elissa IPA tastes more layered than it smells. The flavor starts off clean and fruity with a malt characteristic that is pretty much ghost. I’m OK with that, though. The citrus notes are in the middle, and they are followed by a subtle fruity flavor that reminds me of berries. Saint Arnold mentioned, “At the finish is a subtle strawberry and cherry flavor that is vaguely reminiscent of dried fruit leather and candied fruit.” I can totally get that. It all comes together with a subtle, lingering finish that isn’t too sharp in bitterness.
There’s no direct comparison for Fresh Hop Elissa IPA, but Cascade hops don’t really get the same love that say Citra or Mosaic do, so there’s that. Cascade’s a workhorse in No Label’s Ridge Back Ale and Brazos Valley Brewing’s 13th Can Cream Ale, but I can’t say they’re a good comparison. Fresh Hop Elissa IPA is one of a kind (for me) so far. Since it’s hop harvest season, be on the look out for more fresh hop beers, and try them while they’re out because they won’t last long. I know Whole Foods is supposed to be having one soon – an iteration of one of their flagships DL Double.
As far as I know, it’s only available at the brewery, but lemme know if I’m wrong. I’m always happy to be wrong when it comes to this kind of stuff!
If you didn’t know already, wet hop beers are kind of a big deal. Hops mold really quickly once they’re harvested, so they’re usually dried out and/or turned into pellets. A very small portion of fresh hops will make their way around the country to a few breweries in order to quickly make a beer like Fresh Hop Elissa IPA.
Also, I mentioned in a post last week, Chris is working some hard hours, so I’m gonna try and post an extra review to fill his shoes. Not to worry, they’re very small shoes, y’all. You know what they say about small shoes, right?… Small socks.
Fresh Hop Elissa IPA
I love the hops. All the hops. This beer’s no different. I can appreciate how spot on it is, even in the sea of hazy IPAs that I’ve been indulging in recently. It’s full of flavor yet subtle at the same time.
I’ve seen that there are only a couple hundred folks that have checked it in on Untappd! I wonder if any of you are reading this, and care to share what you thought of it below? A simple one-click of the stars below will clock your rating in, and if you really wanna share, drop a comment below. Beers to you, Houston, and happy sailing!