Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fresh Hop 2011 Progress Report

The 2011 Hood River Hops Festival is Saturday (October 1), and I'm going to make it over there for the first time. Maybe the hops are always greener on the other side of Gresham, but it always seemed to me like the beer list was a little nicer for the Hood River festival than for the followup fresh-hop festival in Portland (this year's is at Oaks Park again, on next Saturday, October 8). Ezra published the Hood River taplist yesterday -- it looks pretty good.

Meanwhile, I've been on my yearly quest to try a new fresh-hop beer every day.  I missed Monday, which would have been the 15th day in a row, because foolish overindulgence Sunday left me with no appetite for beer that day.  Maybe I'll cut myself some slack and count one of the earlier days when I tried two new fresh-hop beers as a reasonable substitute for Monday.

Since the festivals are cranking up, I'll give you my progress report on the beers I've tried so far this season.  I'll put them into four categories:  fresh-hop beers you must try; beers that show off fresh hops well enough; beers that are really good but where I didn't really notice much fresh hop flavor; finally, beers to avoid.  The ones that will be available at Hood River this weekend are marked with "(HR)".  [Update 2011/10/03: I've added in the beers I tried Saturday at Hood River, marked with italicized "(HR)".]

  • Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Pond (HR)
  • Deschutes Fresh Hop Twilight Ale
  • Full Sail Lupulin (with Tettnanger hops) (HR?)
  • Breakside Fresh Hop IPA (HR)
  • Big Horse Vernon the Rabbit Slayer (HR)
  • Elysian Kama Citra (HR)
  • Logsdon Fresh Hop Sezoen (HR)
  • Double Mountain Killer Red (HR)
  • Bridgeport Hop Harvest (HR)
  • Laurelwood Laurelfest Vienna Lager (HR)
  • Deschutes Hop Trip (HR)
  • MacTarnahan's Fresh Hop Mac's Amber (HR)
  • Ft. George CoHoporative Ale (HR)
Good fresh hop beers:
  • Rogue Chatoe Wet Hop (HR)
  • Ninkasi Tricerarillo (HR)
  • Hopworks Fest of Fury (HR)
  • Widmer Liberty Fresh Hop Lager (HR)
  • Deschutes Fresh Hop Inversion IPA
  • Migration Fresh Hop Pale Ale
  • Oakshire Triune Wet Hop Pale Ale (HR)
  • Everybody's Brewing Head Stash Pale Ale (HR)
  • Rock Bottom Hop Harvest (HR)
  • McMenamin's Thundercone (HR)
Tasty beers, not much fresh-hop flavor:
  • Full Sail Lupulin (with Centennial hops) (HR?)
  • Breakside Fresh Hop CDA (HR)
  • Double Mountain Killer Green (HR) 
  • Hopworks Give me Liberty... (HR)
  • Lompoc Crystal Missile (HR)
  • Ninkasi Total Crystallization (HR)
  • Big Horse Red Fang (HR) 
  • Seven Brides Fresh Hop Emily's Ember
  • Ft. George Fresh Hop Vortex IPA (HR)
  • Deschutes Fresh Hop Chainbreaker White IPA
  • Lucky Lab Reaperweizen (HR)
These are just my opinions; feel free to comment if you disagree.  Leave it to Deschutes to take first, second, and last place in the pageant -- they're all over this fresh hop thing.  Likewise, John Harris' experiments with various hop varieties in Full Sail Lupulin keeps pushing the boundaries:  I thought the Centennial was a miss, but the Tettnanger was as good as the mind-blowing batch of Amarillo Lupulin that started the dynasty in 2007.  Anyone know which Lupulin will be on hand in Hood River?  There are some big gaps in my list -- some from breweries that haven't put out the green stuff yet, others that I just haven't gotten to yet.  I'll fill the list in with more beers as I try them.

One thing that makes me very happy is that I don't have to chastise anyone around Portland this year for using 0% undried hops in their "fresh hop" beers.  Remember, no one expects 100% fresh hops in these beers -- although at Breakside Ben Edmunds went the extra mile with his fresh Simcoe IPA and used no dried hops whatsoever -- they just expect brewers to make an effort to get that green flavor with some amount of fresh hops.

Don't forget to consult this year's Portland Fresh Hop Map when looking for that fresh flavor around town.


  1. I tasted the Fresh Hop Inversion IPA on Deschutes tasting tray again last night. This is 3 times tasting it, and the last 2 times, it tasted way less floral than it tasted the first time I tried it. I went to Deschutes right when they released it - I wonder if the floral flavor fades while it's on tap.

  2. Tracy: I guess it's generally accepted that hop aromas fade over long periods of time. I've heard people say the same about fresh-hop flavors, but I don't know if the extra stuff fresh hops bring really falls in that category. Seems to me that a couple weeks shouldn't matter that much.

    My guess is that it was one of the first you tried this year, so it seemed extra special.

  3. I stopped by Deschutes last friday (9/23) and was amazed by how many fresh hop beers there were. Has the Fresh Hop Mirror Pond on cask, which was great, tasted a friends Fresh Hop Chainbreaker which was meh, and then was blown away by the Fresh Hop Octoberfest. Crisp, malty lager with just the right amount of grassy fresh hops. Not sure if they still have it on tap, but I highly recommend it to anyone.

  4. "the Tettnanger was as good as the mind-blowing batch of Amarillo Lupulin that started the dynasty in 2007"

    That was the single best fresh-hop beer ever (and a Satori winner), so I am going to have to make the three mile trek to check it out. When my liver heals from GABF.