Drink me fresh: Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest (Fresh Hop Ale)

The problem with buying hoppy beers from America is that we tend to get them once their fresh, vibrant hop flavour has slightly diminished. With a big hoppy beer such as an American IPA you’ll still get that intense, piney, resinous hop flavour, but the floral green hop flavour of a freshly bottled beer is gone - i.e. the top notes are missing.

However an American beer I drank recently seemed to have 'it' in spades - Very fresh tasting with a real vibrancy of hop flavour which belied the miles it had travelled. The beer in question is Sierra Nevada’s Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale.

According to Sierra Nevada, this beer is the first beer by an American brewer to feature solely fresh-picked southern hemisphere hops - Pacific Hallertau, New Zealand Motueka and New Zealand Southern Cross. The brewery even went to the trouble of flying the hops from New Zealand to California in order to capture that super-fresh hop flavour:

“This ale marks our journey to the only place on the planet where fresh hops are harvested in our spring, the Southern Hemisphere. Our task was daunting - we needed to get the hops picked, dried, flown halfway across the world and into our brew kettle in a little over a week's time. The result is a North-by-South fusion of fresh New Zealand hops blended with the finest North American malts. Its robust hop character presents an intriguing floral-citrus aroma leading to layers of fresh-hop spiciness.”

So it’s definitely a beer that’s racked up some air miles, but it’s all been over a pretty short space of time and I made a point of buying this pretty much as soon as it was available, storing it in the fridge to preserve the hops that had been so carefully handled thus far, and drinking it young.

Personally, I think the effort was worthwhile.

Southern Hemisphere pours a bright blood orange with soft carbonation and a bubbly, tight white head. There’s a touch of oily hop haze in the glass but apart from that it’s pin bright and clear – a great looking beer.

The smell is super fresh; like sticking your nose in a bag of whole hops. You get a really fantastic fresh, green, citrusy hop aroma and the flavour is lightly sweet with bready caramel before a massively floral flavour of very dry, fresh pine needle hops takes over alongside and a slight hint of orange sherbet. The finish is dry and spicy with lots of different hop character to pick up on including predominant flavours of citrus, spiced orange and pine resin.

Despite an ABV of 6.7% and a massive amount of hops this is no American IPA - It’s fresher tasting than that and it doesn’t have that AIPA bitterness or chewy malt body. It's closer to a sort of American pale ale really, but that lovely fresh hop character just lifts the whole thing and because there’s dryness but not lots of bitterness it is hugely drinkable and moreish.

I quaffed the bottle in no time at all, a really great beer.


  1. I think this review captures the beer really well. I much prefer NZ hops in general to US ones as they have tropical fruit aroma in spades, with the bitterness to back it up and round out the beer. Revelation Cat South Pacific Ale is another NZ hopped IPA that's impressed me recently.

  2. It's a lovely beer. I've spoken to people who weren't that moved by it but for me it really hit the spot. A really drinkable ale with bags of fresh hop flavour, a hint of sweetness and excellent balance. What more could you want!

    Got love them kiwi hops

  3. Thanks to your blog I finally opened my bottle of Harvest Fresh Hop Ale last night. I really enjoyed this beer, sooo good I may nip back and get another bottle! Loved the lasting bitterness as it warmed up in the glass. Top beer.

  4. where did you get the fresh hop from?

  5. I bought mine from Beer Ritz. It comes in a american 'pint' bottle, 650ml if I remember rightly.

    Maybe message them on Twitter and ask for one to be put aside.