Fresh Hops Watch, 2014 edition

It’s that time of year again—hop harvest season, and the first fresh hop beers are hitting the taps. (I even homebrewed a fresh hop IPA last weekend, which will be ready in a few weeks.) With that in mind, I figured it was time to set up a running tally/list of fresh hop beers available in Central Oregon. I’ll continually update this post (and may keep it pinned on the homepage for a while).

Fresh hops

10 Barrel Brewing:

  • The Boss: On tap 9/12. First of four fresh hop beers from 10 Barrel. Hops used: Centennial hops from Umpqua Hop Farms

Cascade Lakes Brewing:

  • Farmer’s Choice Wet Hop: Coming soon, will be at the Sister Fresh Hop Festival. 5.8% abv. Hops used: 150 lbs. of Centennial from the Umpqua Valley (Sutherlin, OR)

Crux Fermentation Project:

  • Cruxtennial Fresh Hop Belgian Pale Ale: On tap as of September 2. 6% abv. Hops used: Centennial and Crystal
  • Crystal Zwickle Fresh Hop Belgian Pale Ale: Coming soon, will be at the Sister Fresh Hop Festival. 6% abv. Hops used: Crystal
  • Off the Fence Estate Grown Fresh Hop Ale: Coming soon, will be at the Sister Fresh Hop Festival. 5.8% abv. Hops used: Cascade

Deschutes Brewery:

  • Fresh Hop Horse Ridge IPA: On tap as of September 3. 6.1% abv. Hops used: Centennial
  • Hop Trip: Coming soon, on draft and in bottles. 5.4% abv. Hops used: Crystal
  • Fresh Hop Oktoberfest: Coming soon, will be at the Sister Fresh Hop Festival. 5.2% abv. Hops used: Willamette
  • Chasin’ Freshies Fresh Hop IPA: Coming soon, on draft and in bottles. 7.2% abv. Hops used: Mosaic

GoodLife Brewing:

  • 150 Hippies Fresh Hop Ale: Coming soon. Co-op brew, with backyard hops provided by locals. 5.3% abv. Hops used: various locally grown

McMenamins Old St. Francis School:

  • Mr. Peacock’s Special Bitter Fresh Hop Ale: On tap now (as of 9/14). Will be at the Sister Fresh Hop Festival. 4.9% abv. Hops used: Fuggles and Mt. Hood from the D&D Ranch in Terrebonne
  • Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale: Release date September 19 (on tap now). Hops used: Brewer’s Gold

Rat Hole Brewing:

  • Fresh Hop Rye IPA: Debuting at the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival. 6.7% abv. Hops used: various locally grown
  • Fresh Hop Blood Orange Pale Ale: Coming soon (perhaps the Fresh Hop Fest). 5% abv. Hops used: various locally grown

Silver Moon Brewing:

  • Hoppopotamus Fresh Hop Ale: Coming soon. 6.4% abv. Hops used: Cascades from Crosby Hop Farm.

Smith Rock Brewing:

  • Fresh Hop IPA: Coming soon.

Solstice Brewing:

Sunriver Brewing:

  • Mosaic Fresh Hop Ale (TBD): Coming soon. Hops used: Mosaic

Three Creeks Brewing:

  • Cone Lick’r Fresh Hop Pale: Release by Sisters Fresh Hop Festival on 9/27. 5% abv. Hops used: 300 lbs. of wet Centennial hops from BC Farms in Woodburn, OR
  • Hop Wrangler Fresh Hop Red: Release by Sisters Fresh Hop Festival on 9/27. 5.8% abv. Hops used: 150 lbs. of freshly harvested Chinook

Worthy Brewing:

  • WorthWild Fresh Hop IPA: On tap at noon on 9/12. Collaboration with Redmond’s Wild Ride Brewing, using hops from the recently-established Smith Rock Hop Farm out in Terrebonne. Hops used: Cascade and Centennial
  • Big Sticky Fresh Hop Pale Ale: On tap 9/16. Hops used: 200 lbs. fresh Meridian from Goschie Farms.

Wild Ride Brewing:

  • WorthWild Fresh Hop IPA: Collaboration brew with Worthy (see above), on tap weekend of 9/12.
  • Journey to Planet Fresh Hop: Pale ale. Coming soon, will be at the Sister Fresh Hop Festival. 5.4% abv. Hops used: Citra from the Yakima Valley

The Sisters Fresh Hop Festival is bringing the hops

As if you weren’t getting enough fresh hops-related posts from the site lately, it’s time to start talking up the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival! This is one of my favorite regional beer events, because this is one of my favorite times of the (beer) year, when I’m hunting down as many fresh hop beers as I can drink, and what better place to do that then at a festival dedicated to them?

Sisters Fresh Hop Festival

The fest is taking place on Saturday, September 27, at the Village Green Park in Sisters (Oregon) from noon to 8pm. The details haven’t really changed from last year: $5 to get the tasting glass, $1 per four ounce taste. Beers will be pouring in the tent, and all ages are welcome. There will be food trucks/carts on site and live music as well.

This year is the biggest festival yet, with 24 breweries (many of them local) pouring at least one fresh hop beer. (All but one—Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider—are pouring two beers, and though they all have at least one fresh hop beer pouring, some only have the one, plus a regular beer.)

Here is the list of breweries in attendance, with their beers as well (I’ve marked the fresh hop beers in bold):

  • 10 Barrel Brewing
    • Both TBD – though I’m thinking The Boss and The Protegé maybe
  • Base Camp Brewing (Portland)
    • Fresh Hop Gnar Gnar IPA (6.7%, Meridian hops)
    • Wet-Hop Dry Hopped Helles (4.9%, Cascade hops)
  • BridgePort Brewing (Portland)
    • Mettle and Mash IPA (7%, Crystal hops)
    • Witch Hunt Spiced Ale (5.8%)
  • Burnside Brewing (Portland)
    • Couch Select Lager (5%)
    • Fresh Hop Oatmeal Pale (5.6%, Crystal hops)
  • Cascade Lakes Brewing (Redmond)
    • Farmer’s Choice Wet Hop (5.8%, Centennial hops)
    • Paulina Lake Pilsner (4.5%)
  • Crux Fermentation Project (Bend)
    • Crystal Zwickle Belgian Pale Ale (6%, Crystal hops)
    • Off the Fence Estate Grown Fresh Hop Ale (5.8%, Cascade hops)
  • Deschutes Brewery (Bend)
    • Fresh Hop Oktoberfest (5.2%, Willamette hops)
    • Fresh Hop Horse Ridge IPA (6.1%, Centennial hops)
  • Fort George Brewing (Astoria)
    • Fresh Hop IPA (6.5%, Simcoe hops)
    • Cavatica Stout (8.8%)
  • Full Sail Brewing (Hood River)
    • Fresh Hop Pilsner (???)
    • Session (5.1%)
  • Gilgamesh Brewing (Salem)
    • Fresh Prince of Ales Double IPA (8.2%, Centennial hops)
    • Mamba Ale (6.5%)
  • GoodLife Brewing (Bend)
    • 150 Hippies Fresh Hop Pale Ale (5.3%, various donated hops)
    • Sweet As Pacific Ale (6%)
  • Groundbreaker Brewing (Portland)
    • Meridian Fresh Hop Pale Ale (Gluten free, 5.8%, Meridian hops)
    • Cascade Fresh Hop Pale Ale (Gluten free, 5.8%, Cascade hops)
  • McMenamins Old St. Francis School (Bend)
    • Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale (6.19%, Brewer’s Gold hops)
    • Mr. Peacock’s Special Bitter Fresh Hop Ale (4.9%, Fuggles and Mt. Hood hops)
  • Ninkasi Brewing (Eugene)
    • Total Crystalation (Crystal hops)
    • 100 Years of Hopitude (Centennial hops)
  • Old Town Brewing (Portland)
    • Cent’s and Censability Fresh Hop Pale Ale (5.2%, Centennial hops)
    • Sterling Kolsch (4.9%, Sterling hops)
  • Portland Brewing (Portland)
    • McTarnahan’s Fresh Hop Amber Ale (5.1%)
    • Zig Zag Lager (5.1%)
  • Rat Hole Brewing (Bend)
    • Blood Orange Fresh Hop Pale (5%, local “mystery blend” of hops)
    • Fresh Hop Rye IPA (6.7%, local “mystery blend” of hops)
  • Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (Portland)
    • Hallelujah Hopricot Fresh Hop Cider (6.7%, Cascade hops)
  • Seven Brides Brewing (Silverton)
    • Fresh Hopped Emily’s Ember (5%, Cascade hops)
    • Fresh Hop Chinook Pale (5.25%, Chinook hops)
  • Silver Moon Brewing (Bend)
    • Hoppopotamus Fresh Hop Ale (6.4%, Cascade hops)
    • Voodoo Dog ISR (5.5%)
  • Three Creeks Brewing (Sisters)
    • Cone Lick’r Fresh Hop Pale (5%, Centennial hops)
    • Hop Wrangler Fresh Hop Red (5.8%, Chinook hops)
  • Three Mugs Brewing (Hillsboro)
    • Big D’s Memorial Fresh Hop Imperial IPA (9.3%, Simcoe hops)
    • Firey Wench Imperial Red Ale (9%)
  • Wild Ride Brewing (Redmond)
    • Journey to Planet Fresh Hop (5.4%, Citra hops)
    • 3 Sisters American Red Ale (6%)
  • Worthy Brewing (Bend) – TBD but I would guess they will be:
    • WorthWild Fresh Hop IPA (Cascade and Centennial hops)
    • Big Sticky Fresh Hop Pale Ale (Meridian hops)

For those of you hopheads keeping track, these are the hops represented (by my reckoning), in order of most to least:

  • Cascade – 7
  • Centennial – 7
  • Crystal – 4
  • Meridian – 3
  • Chinook – 2
  • Simcoe – 2
  • Brewer’s Gold – 1
  • Citra – 1
  • Fuggles – 1
  • Mt. Hood – 1
  • Sterling – 1
  • Willamette – 1
  • Unknown/variety – 5

Obviously Cascade and Centennial are big this year, but then again they are classic American aroma hops, so why not? But I would also make an effort to try some of the lesser-used hops; the Sterling Kolsch from Old Town is catching my eye simply because I cannot remember if I’ve had a fresh Sterling hopped beer before—and the Kolsch will be a good platform for it, I’m thinking.

Incidentally, this year it seems as though nearly all of the state’s fresh hop fests are taking place on the 27th; look here to see the list of them all. That is a lot of fresh hop beer pouring that day!

Drinking: Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop AleAfter mowing the lawn tonight I opened up that growler of Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale that I picked up from McMenamins yesterday, a nice fresh hop follow-up to mowing and raking up freshly-cut grass. This is a tasty beer, and I’m writing down these notes even as I’m drinking it—sort of a semi-live-blogging session, you could say.

The stats on this beer are:

Malts: Canada Malting Superior Pilsen Malt, Franco Belges Caramel Munich 40
Hops: Chinook (Bittering), Fresh Brewer’s Gold hops (Flavor & Aroma)

OG: 1.061  TG: 1.013  ABV: 6.19%  IBU: 56  SRM: 7

At the Old St. Francis School here in Bend (which is where I got it), brewer Mike White brewed a six-barrel batch, using five pounds of fresh hops per barrel—or 30 pounds of fresh hops overall. The hops used this year, Brewer’s Gold, are a departure from the normal Cascades. Brewer’s Gold is primarily used as a bittering hop, with typically 5 to 10% alpha acids, and not one I can recall seeing used fresh (though I’m sure it has). Cascade hops, on the other hand, are the American aroma hop (really dual-purpose), with alpha acids ranging from 4 to 9%.

Appearance: Darker copper color, slightly hazy, with a nice fly-in-amber impression when held to the light.

Smell: The Brewer’s Gold hops impart a peppery, green earthy character, kind of leafy, like freshly-crushed dandelion greens or maybe arugula. Maybe even a touch of menthol. It’s very clean and fresh. Malts come out as bit as it warms and remind me of crackers.

Taste: Similar in profile to what I’m getting in the aroma: peppery, earthy, green, and that slightest hint of menthol. The pale ale base is mellow and a good backbone to letting the hops shine, biscuit-y and cracker-y, but otherwise out of the way.

Mouthfeel: Clean, medium-bodied, with that peppery fresh hop taste lingering on.

Overall: I’m enjoying this beer, and it’s different from the Thundercone I remember of previous years because of the different hops for sure.

This officially goes on tap this Friday, September 19, and if you love fresh hops then you need to seek it out! Each brewery’s version will taste a bit different, so if you get the chance to try more than one version, jump all over it. (I would still love to see an all-McMenamins Thundercone fresh hop fest with all the different breweries side by side!)

I’ll end with the “Running of the Brewers” video McMenamins made a couple years ago; it’s fun and just look at all those fresh hops…

Received: McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale (2014)

I picked up a growler of the soon-to-be-released Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale from McMenamins Old St. Francis School today, courtesy of McMenamins:

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale

It’s slated to be released this Friday, September 19, but I got the sneak preview (though I haven’t cracked this growler yet—had plans this evening!). Each year the brewing of Thundercone is heralded by the “Running of the Brewers,” celebrating the hop harvest with 1000 pounds of fresh hops “frantically delivered from Sodbuster Farms… to 22 McMenamins Breweries all over Washington and Oregon.” This year the fresh hops used were Brewer’s Gold (as opposed to Cascade in previous years).

Fresh hop season is one of my favorite times of the “beer year” and I always hunt down as many as I can find. I’m definitely looking forward to pouring a pint of this one, it’s always one of the good ones out there (OSF brewer Mike White knows his stuff). I’ll post about it when I do.

Incidentally, the other fresh hop beer being offered at the Old St. Francis School, Mr. Peacock’s Special Bitter Fresh Hop Ale, is on tap now! This is an OSF-only house beer brewed with Fuggles and Mt. Hood hops hand-picked from the D&D Ranch out in Terrebonne (northern Central Oregon).

Received: Deschutes Jubelales for 2014

The first Jubelales of the season from Deschutes Brewery arrived yesterday, heralding the onset of winter seasonal ales:

Deschutes Brewery Jubelale 2014

(At least they didn’t arrive in August like they have in years past!)

This is a classic and one of my all-time favorite beers from Deschutes. As the accompanying info sheet notes, this is the 27th bottling of this beer—and it was the first beer ever bottled by the brewery, way back in 1988. They bottled in used 750ml champagne bottles, directly from the taps.

The label is a work of fabric layering by Lubbesmeyer Studios here in Bend, definitely a unique process. Deschutes has a paragraph about it on their site:

This year’s label by Lisa and Lori Lubbesmeyer features original fiber artwork showing two people sledding in a playful winter landscape. The twins’ artwork was created through their unique method of layering and overstitching with fabrics. During their artistic process, they exchange the pieces, allowing the imagery to emerge spontaneously. The fracturing of shape and saturation of color occur layer by layer – allowing the texture of the fiber to build the imagery as they’ve responded to each other’s work. The final piece was meant to capture the essence of the lifestyle we all enjoy here in Central Oregon.

Keep an eye out for Jubelale hitting the shelves this month.