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…