The Brew Site

Fresh Hop Fests Galore

Ah, fall. It’s harvest beer season and around the Pacific Northwest that largely means fresh hop beers, a brewing trend that has grown to prominence here due to the close proximity of the hop farms (most breweries are within a few hours’ drive). Not only do beers brewed with fresh hops (freshly picked off the vine, and not yet dried—or “wet”) make their appearance this time of year, but a number of events and festivals celebrating this fresh hop bounty have also sprung up.

Of course many fresh hop events are taking place in Oregon, but there are others outside of the state as well. Here’s a bit of a guide to many of them, organized by date.

This Saturday, September 22 there are two:

Portland Beer Week and Saraveza have teamed up to present a Fresh Hops Worskhop starting at 6pm and taking place at Saraveza’s Bad Habit Room in Portland. Here’s the description:

This casual event features 4 of the first fresh hop beers of the season – Total Crystalation from Ninkasi Brewing, Killer Green from Double Mountain Brewing, IPX – The Freshmaker from Hopworks Urban Brewery and Wet Hop Simcoe Pale Ale from Breakside Brewery. Each of the breweries respective owners/brewers will be in attendance to talk about their beer and brewing with fresh hops.

Interactive aspects of the workshop include a Randall stuffed with fresh hops, hop infused olive oils with bread for dipping and tasting each’s properties, hop oils that can be used to dose a beer for flavor/aroma as well as a control batch of macro lager dosed and undosed and even the opportunity to hand French Press your beer with fresh hops. Later in the evening organizers will lead a discussion on brewing with fresh hops, growing and packaging hops and new regulations on Organic Hops. To discuss these subjects and more is a lineup of experts on the cutting edge of the industry.

Special guests include Ninkasi’s Jamie Floyd, Double Mountain’s Charlie Devereux, Breadside’s Ben Edmunds, Hopworks’ Tom Bleigh, Gayle Goschie, and Indie Hops’ Jim Solberg. Only 50 tickets are available at $10.50 each, and this close to the event I’d expect they might be close to selling out (though the PayPal “add to cart” link still lets me add one to the cart so I don’t know the status for sure). Updated: They are sold out, PayPal handles this incorrectly. (See the comments). That should be a great, interesting night.

If you find yourself a bit farther south in Oregon’s Willamette Valley on Saturday the 22nd, you might want to check out Seven Brides Brewing‘s own Septoberfest Fresh Hop Beer Festival, taking place at Seven Brides’ brewery in Silverton all day (from 11am until 11pm). The third year this event is taking place (they started in 2010), they plan to offer fresh hops beers from 15+ breweries, live music, food, and a wedding dress drive. In fact, they are donating to a great cause:

This year we are excited to announce that we have partnered with the national non-profit Brides Against Breast Cancer, and all proceeds will be going directly to them. Plus, we will be holding a wedding dress drive for Brides Against Breast Cancer which will kick off during Septoberfest and last the entire month of October. Be sure to check out the Facebook page for more info and specifics on the dress drive.

Cost for this year’s festival is $5 entry and $10 for a tasting glass and 4 tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets are $1 each. Anyone that has a wedding dress to donate that meets the donation requirements will be given complimentary entry and a special gift from Seven Brides.

I haven’t seen a specific beer list out yet but if I get one I’ll post it.

The following weekend, on Saturday, September 29, there two more big events:

The Hood River Hops Fest is, I believe, Oregon’s largest fresh hop beer celebration taking place in downtown Hood River (between 5th and 7th Streets and Cascade and Columbia Streets) from noon to 9pm, and they will have a staggering 51 fresh hop beers (out of 64 beers totals) pouring! This is a big festival that not only includes the beer but also features wine, arts and crafts, great food, a kids zone, live music, and more.

Hood River County Chamber of Commerce hosts a beer lover’s dream when fresh-hopped brews from more than two dozen Northwest craft brewers are on tap. The event showcases Hood River County’s own microbreweries as well as some of the best of the Northwest brewers. To accompany the brews, Hops Fest showcases;

  • Local cuisine from woodfire pizza to American pub grub to vegetarian style dishes.
  • Unique arts and crafts vendors from around the Northwest including beer inspired soaps, unique jewelery and handmade pottery.
  • A selection of Gorge wines.
  • A Kids Zone with face painting and other child friendly activities.
  • And a day-long lineup of live music.
  • Held in a special street pavilion in the heart of downtown Hood River, admission includes commemorative stein, and tasting tokens are sold for a nominal price. The annual event attracts thousands and proceeds support the programs of the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce.

Children are welcome throughout the afternoon until 6pm; The venue is open to adults only until closing at 9pm.

  • $4.00 for wine drinkers and designated drivers
  • 21 and over $6.00, which includes beer tasting stein
  • 20 and under free until 5:30 p.m.
  • Tokens are $1 each. 4 tokens = a full beer, or 1 token = a taste.

The New School has the detailed list of the beers, the best name of which comes (of course) from Gigantic Brewing: “The Most Interesting Beer in the World.”

Down in Central Oregon that same day, the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival is taking place in the heart of this small picturesque town in the Village Green Park from noon until 8pm. There will be 11 breweries on hand pouring their fresh hop beers, along with food and entertainment throughout the day; the breweries will be pouring their beers under a main tent with additional seating and tables in the park general. I attended last year, and had a good time.

Here’s the list of this year’s attending breweries and beers:

On Friday, October 5, Deschutes Brewery is hosting one of their signature beer events at their Mountain Room in Bend, their Fresh Hop Harvest Beer Dinner. In past years this was a beer tasting event (free flowing beers and small plates), this year it’s a full dinner with four course and a precursor passed appetizer, with five fresh hop beers on tap to sample and pair with the food:

Deschutes is one of the most proliferate brewers of fresh hop beers around, with something like 12 to 14 planned this year between the Bend and Portland breweries. This Fresh Hop Dinner will be taking place from 6 to 10pm that Friday night, and the cost is $65 per person (and there look to be 30 spots open as I write this). This is a great event and if you get the chance to attend you absolutely should.

Saturday, October 6 is a popular day for fresh hops, with three events going on across the country:

Swinging into action in Portland is the Portland Fresh Hops Fest taking place at the Oaks Amusement Park in the Sellwood area of Stumptown. The Fest takes place from noon to 8pm, and there is a special preview event the day before (Friday the 5th) from 5:30 to 8:30pm:

$20 gets you a 2012 Glass, 5 tickets good for 5 4 oz. samples of fresh hop beers, a half sandwich from Philadelphia’s Steaks & Hoagies and a Beeraigrette Potato Salad or Fresh Hop Beer Cheese Soup from Cheesebar. All orders placed at will call. Tickets, wristbands and glasses can be used at the Tastival on October 6th, 2012.
If you are a SNOB [Support Native Oregon Beer] and want to buy tickets – you will be getting a separate email on how to buy your tickets at a discount.

On Saturday:

$15 for glass + 5 drink tickets
$20 for glass + 10 drink tickets
Cash only – Minors permitted – Glass sales til 7pm – Drink Ticket sales til 7:30pm.
Root Beer + Lemonade for sale — proceeds benefit the Llewellyn Elementary School Foundation

Kid’s activity area from noon-5pm sponsored by: Sellwood Westmoreland Business Alliance, Inc.

Homebrew demonstration by Portland U-Brew & Pub

This is the big fresh hops event for Portland but I don’t know if it has the depth of beers available that the Hood River Fest has. Still, fresh hops! You can’t go wrong!

Up in Yakima, Washington, a major hop-growing region, they are celebrating their 10th Annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival from 5 to 10pm that Saturday the 6th. They have some 29 breweries on hand pouring fresh hop beers, wine and cider, a fresh hop homebrewing competition, food, music, and more.

At our ale festival, you’ll learn how hand-crafted ales are made in the demonstration tent, compare brews, sample wines, nosh great food, enjoy a cigar, and dance!

On top of all of that, you’re supporting the arts in the Yakima Valley. Proceeds from the Fresh Hop Ale Festival benefit Allied Arts of the Yakima Valley, providing nearly 20% of the annual budget in support of arts programs for all ages.

Tickets cost $30 in advance (only available locally) and $35 at the gate. You will also need to purchase “scrip” (like tickets) for getting tasters and glasses of beer and wine.

This is one of those Big Ones that the the Washington Beer Blog and Road Trips for Beer called “one of the Ten Best Fall Beer Festivals in America” so it’s worth checking out!

And then all the way over towards the East Coast, Terrapin Beer of Athens, Georgia is holding their own Hop Harvest Festival, an all-day event taking place at the brewery.

Good local food, educational guest speakers, toe tapping tunes all in Athens favorite back yard. This year there will be 16 casks each flavored with a different hop variety in two separate tents! And of course the harvesting of our very own hop garden.

We love Hop Harvest for all these things but the juiciest bud of all is the release of the 2012 So Fresh and So Green Green! This fresh hopped treat will be flowing all day long!

To attend Terrapin’s Hop Harvest, you need to pre-purchase your glass voucher to ensure you get in; these cost $22 which gets you your souvenir glass and eight tickets worth four ounces of beer each, with $5 from every one of these vouchers being donated to Georgia Organics.

On Sunday, October 7, Denver’s Falling Rock Taphouse presents their 6th Annual Fresh Hop Celebration from noon to 5pm (and sponsored by Deschutes Brewery). They have ten breweries listed that will be bringing some of the season’s best fresh hop beers.

The celebration will take place on the patio and in the parking lot of Falling Rock Tap House and will include live music, tastings, information on home brewing, people’s choice awards, activities and more.

  • All Ages Welcome, Must be 21 to Drink
  • Location: Falling Rock Tap House 1800 Blake Street, Denver, CO
  • Admission: $25, unlimited tasting, includes commemorative glass

$25 for unlimited tasting is a great deal, and proceeds from this event will benefit the Colorado Water Trust.

On Saturday, October 20, the Willamette Valley Fresh Hop Festival is taking place in Eugene at the Lane Events Center at the Lane County Fairgrounds from noon until 9pm. Details on this are still scarce (it’s over a month out, after all) but it’s one of the Fests being organized by the Oregon Brewers Guild, like the Hood River, Sisters, and Portland events. Accordingly, prices announced are:

$15 for a glass and 5 drink tickets
$20 for a glass and 10 drink tickets

More on this as it develops.

Towards the end of the month, on Saturday, October 27, St. Louis’ Schlafly Beer is holding their Fresh Hop Beer Festival from noon to 4pm at their Schlafly Bottleworks location.

In celebration of the fall hop harvest, we fly in fresh, wet hops from Washington State and then invite our friends from other local breweries to brew a unique style for our Fresh Hop Festival.

Participating breweries this year may include: 4 Hands Brewing Co., Charleville Microbrewery, The Civil Life Brewing Co., Crown Valley Brewing & Distilling Co., Exit 6 Brewery, Ferguson Brewing Co., Kirkwood Station Brewing Co., O’Fallon Brewery, Six Row Brewing Co., Square One Brewery & Distillery, Schlafly Beer, and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.

Tickets will be available for $25 at both Schlafly Breweries and online beginning October 1st, 2012.

The cool part of this is, Schlafly flies the hops in and shares with the other breweries who then make fresh hop beers for this Fest. Stan wrote a bit about last year’s event. Is there better example of the camaraderie and sharing spirit of craft brewers? Perhaps, but I’ll bet it doesn’t taste as good as the beers at this Festival!