I think there are enough things out now, that if I can schedule things right, I should be able to keep a streak going now for a couple of weeks, maybe until the Portland Fresh Hop Tastival Oct. 9. Remember, if you see a fresh-hop offering that's not on the Fresh Hop Map, drop me a line so I can update it.
Here's my current list of must try/should try/don't bother from what I've seen so far:
- Deschutes Fresh-Hopped Mirror Pond
- Full Sail Lupulin (right now it's the First Gold variant)
- Rock Bottom Hop Harvest
- Bridgeport Hop Harvest
- Lompoc Crystal Missile
- Sierra Nevada 2010 Harvest Ale
- Fort George Hopstoria
- Issaquah (Rogue) Wet Frog
- McMenamins Thundercone
- Pelican Elemental Ale
- Hale's Harvest Ale (all dried hops)
- Hopworks Gayle's Pale (all dried hops)
- Deschutes King Cone
- Hopworks Goldilocks (all dried hops)
People have been raving about the hard-to-find Pelican Elemental. I don't get it. It is a solid beer, with unmistakable fresh-hop goodness, but it has a few too many other flavors going on to make it into my first tier. Instead, I would seek out the Lompoc Crystal Missile, which is a light, easy drinker just perfect for showing off what we like about these fresh-hop ales. It reminds me of the first of these that I tasted a few years ago.
The McMenamins Thundercone I tried at the Crystal was not bad. A little light on the hops, but they had the idea. McM's threw a curve ball at my plans to keep the Fresh Hop Map complete: this beer was brewed at every McMenamins brewery, and is served at every pub. Well, after adding two of the locations to the map, I realized I wasn't going to cover them all. If you taste a batch that was especially fine, contact me and I'll add that location to the map.
Why do I put "all dried hops" next to some of the beers to avoid? Why not just leave them off the list? Because these beers are promoted as Fresh Hop Beers. Oh, the hops are "freshly dried", but they're not "wet hops".
That is ridiculous. If you go to the grocery store and ask for fresh parsley, or fresh ginger, or fresh garlic, they will point you to the produce aisle. Try telling them you don't want wet parsley, you want fresh-dried parsley. And by the way, where is the wet ginger? I'm making a stir-fry, should I put in dried garlic, fresh garlic, or wet garlic?
Hopworks is selling "fresh hop beers" brewed with 100% dried hops. Gosh, maybe we better go over their food menu. Hmmm... that fresh romaine lettuce, is it wet lettuce, or fresh-dried? What about the fresh spinach and fresh basil -- are you sure those were dried freshly at the farm? I'm not sure about the fresh cucumbers on that salad, is it possible to get it with wet cucumbers?
Don't fall into this trap of talking about "wet hops". Those are fresh hops. All other hops are dried hops. Calling dried hops "fresh" is pure deception.