I couldn’t resist looking at the Deschutes Brewing Fresh Hop Mirror Pond Pale Ale that I received in the fridge for too long; so of course it didn’t take me long to crack it open to drink and write about it.
Aside from the high praise that this beer has been universally getting, one big reason I was excited for this beer was the sheer beer (and hops) geek factor involved in the use of heirloom Cascade hops—from the original cuttings from 1972. In fact I just received another press release today that talks about this:
But this creation went far beyond just ordering some Cascade hops from the rich farmlands of Oregon – instead, Brewmaster Larry Sidor revived the original 1972 rhizome for the plant from the archives at Oregon State University.
“We are in the craft beer industry and we care about quality, which is why we asked the hop farmer to keep a field idle for two years – we actually paid them to not grow anything,” said Sidor. “This gave us a ‘pure’ field to start with, using cuttings from the original Cascade hop plant and we grew them up for more than two years.”
Goschie Farms of the Willamette Valley agreed to dedicate four acres of pristine land for heirloom Cascade hop cultivation. The 2011 harvest season bears the fruits of those labors begun many years ago, and so does Fresh Hop Mirror Pond.
Yes there’s a (big) element of PR to this story but frankly I think this is the most interesting hop-related story this year (and ranks pretty high for beer geek stories too).
Fresh Hop Mirror Pond is 5% alcohol by volume and has 40 IBUs.
Appearance: Bright, clear copper in color, with big, luscious (3 fingers) of off-white head. Nice lacing.
Smell: Bright, green, and citrus—kind of a sweet orange aroma. Floral and a touch grassy. A sweet toasted biscuit note in there too.
Taste: Toasty, rich layers of malts—very much an ESB in profile to my taste—with a nice mellow background bitterness that leads up to a fruity, citrus-peel-pith bite, settling into wild mustard greens on the back of the tongue. Another sip is spicy and vegetal yet a bit mellow; tastes very fresh and while not as intense as eating/chewing up a fresh hop flower (yes, I have done this), it’s basically the same.
Mouthfeel: Clean, medium-bodied, a nice lingering vegetal bitterness in the aftertaste.
Overall: All around this is a really great beer, from the rich, biscuity malts to the hop character which is balanced really well, bright and big and bold with a subtle, deft hand applied. I get so much “green” with every sip, it’s luscious.
On BeerAdvocate, it already has 11 reviews and scores an overall grade of A. RateBeer has a page for it but instead redirects you to their regular Mirror Pond page, which isn’t quite the same, but ranks it at their 91st percentile.